Posts Tagged ‘Kumail Nanjiani’

Media Update 11/16/17

November 16, 2017


The Big Sick

On any given day, Kumail Nanjiani ranks as either my favorite or second favorite stand-up comedian. He tells both relatable and fantastic stories and operates on a similar nerdy wavelength as I do. I regularly listened to his podcast that he co-hosted with his wife Emily Gordon so I knew how well they clicked and how smart and funny they both are. When I found out that they had made a movie together I really had to see it. When I found out that it would be directed by Michael Showalter (of Wet Hot American Summer fame) I was over the moon. The movie is a slightly fictionalized account of Emily and Kumail’s courtship which also covers the health scare that hit Emily and how that affected their relationship. The movie is dotted with scenes of Kumail working on routines that would later show up in his specials. The movie is mostly about how people deal with each other and what we are willing to go through for and with the people we love. It also features the culture clash between the family of a man born in Pakistan and the family of a woman born in the United States. It is very funny but I was also basically crying by the end of it but smiling through my tears. I recommend it as it is a very touching movie that never gets too sappy.


Do The Right Thing

This is one of those movies that I have been meaning to watch but I knew it would be a difficult, uncomfortable movie to get through. I was right and I was wrong. I knew some stuff from the movie, having a little of it spoiled but this was my first full viewing. Right away we are welcomed by the voice of Samuel L. Jackson who operates as the movie’s narrator. The movie takes place on one street in the famous Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York City. It is the depths of summer and temperatures are skyrocketing in an area too poor for air conditioning. The heat is driving everybody into being especially on edge. Spike Lee is the writer, director and also plays the lead role of Mookie, a young pizza delivery boy known in the neighborhood. He works for the local Italian family headed by Danny Aiello and a hothead John Turturro. There are all sorts of characters including the local rabble-rousers, the elders, the old drunk, the grandmother, the Korean grocery, the police, and Mookie’s family. There is comedy, there is conflict, there is drama. Basically, the movie goes through a single day in the summer and shows the mounting tensions as they build towards a conclusion. It was a lot of fun to watch but then it did get uncomfortable in places but in the best ways. It shows the bad decisions we make based on our prejudices and the inborn prejudice of the system we live in. I recommend it as it is a very important movie.


42

I do not remember my first baseball game but I have seen photos of me in an Orioles hat when I was still an infant. I have a handful of friends/distant family members who are super into baseball to an impressive level. This movie was powerful because it depicted how people were caught between their love of the game and their prejudices. Jackie Robinson was the first black man to be hired onto the roster of a previously all-white major league team when he made it to the Brooklyn Dodgers. We look back at that moment with joy and pride but this movie does a good job of detailing how hard it was to get to that point and beyond it. Chadwick Boseman does a great job at playing a reserved and defiant Robinson who is achieving something from his wildest dreams. They put in a good deal of effort to show that he landed a spot on the Dodgers because of merit and not as a publicity stunt. Harrison Ford is incredibly charming as the wily and scrappy owner of the Dodgers who championed Robinson. Robinson’s supportive and highly intelligent wife is expertly performed by Nicole Beharie. John C. McGinley played legendary sports announcer Red Barber, a man who at first did not accept Robinson but later became a huge fan. Alan Tudyk was scarily good at playing racist Phillies manager Ben Chapman. There are plenty of other great actors who play Robinson’s teammates as they struggle to accept the hand they were given and try to figure out which side of history they want to be on. I definitely recommend this for people who are baseball fans and people who are not.

Music of the Week:

Estelle – American Boy

X Ambassadors – Renegades

DJ Khaled ft Drake – For Free

Allegaeon – A Path Disclosed

Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life

 

Weekly Update:
– I watched more Blacklist Season 4
– I finished Glitter Force Season 2
– I finished Little Witch Academia Season 1
– I watched more Van Helsing
– I watched more Sleepy Hollow Season 2
– I watched more Santa Clarita Diet

My Top 11 Favorite Stand Up Comedians

December 3, 2014

1 Kumail Nanjiani

Kumail Nanjiani is consistently the comedian that makes me laugh the most.  The stand-up specials I’ve heard had me laughing like crazy.  His bits are so well-constructed that I did a whole routine of his and got somebody else laughing hard.  He’s the cohost of Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail and is a hilarious host.  He also hosts two podcasts and guests on Harmontown all the time and he’s just so much fun to listen to.  His humor comes from very personal experience and a lot of it is mixed strangely with horror.  Most of this comes from telling stories of his childhood in Pakistan which sounds pretty terrifying.

2 Patton Oswalt

I have laughed at Patton Oswalt until tears have run down my face and black spots have formed on the edge of my vision and I needed to stop to catch my breath.  He’s so good at forming relentless stories that hit you over and over again.  His comedy is really smart and I know he’s a big comic book nerd which puts us somewhat on the same wavelength.  I find myself nodding my head a lot when I listen to Patton Oswalt.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

3 Robin Williams

If you can get in the rhythm of his rapid-fire delivery, this is really great stand up to listen to.  Robin was all over the place all the time in a manic-yet-driven style.  Beyond the pop culture references and impressions and screaming he had a point and it always felt like the truth.  Robin Williams was nothing but honest with his fans even when he was talking about his greatest faults.  Behind that bouncy and bright grin there was always a bit of a realist there.  At least, that’s how I always saw it.

4 Amy Schumer (NSFW)

Talk about honest, Amy Schumer tends to push honest through R-Rated and into NC-17 while still being classy enough to take seriously.  My first exposure to her was her special Mostly Sex Stuff which was a very accurate title.  She’s definitely not safe for work but her bits and delivery are dead on.  She also has a show on Comedy Central which is very good even if I could never watch it with my family.

5 Steve Martin

Steve Martin is one of the first stand up comedians I ever became a fan of.  I will remain loyal to him for a long time, forever if he keeps behaving the way he is.  I realize that it may be unfair to put Steve Martin on this list since he was less of a stand up comedian and more of a performance artist.  Most of the comedians I like tell stories that are mostly true.  Steve Martin did everything but tell the truth.  He was a wacky cartoon character come to life and he brought that to every role even if he was playing the straight man.  Still, I could listen to Steve Martin albums forever.

6 Chris Hardwick

Chris Hardwick has been around forever (or at least since the nineties) but only lately has he became a juggernaut in the geek and comedy worlds.  Chris has honed his craft to a sharp edge but I’ve liked him as soon as I first heard him.  He’s a big enough nerd that he adopted The Nerdist as his brand and has taken that to the bank several times over.  He rubs elbows with every comedian that matters in the business and is funny enough to hang with all of them legitimately.  I’m genuinely happy to see him show up anywhere.

7 Eddie Izzard

When I first saw Eddie Izzard, probably pointed his way by Arthur or somebody way back when, my first thought was:  “Who is this guy in the dress and why is he wearing makeup and why is nobody mentioning it?”  My second question was: “Why haven’t I heard of this guy before now? He’s hilarious.”  Like Robin Williams, Eddie Izzard doesn’t stay in one place for long and jumps along lines of thoughts towards either a conclusion or sometimes just into the ether.  His comedy is surreal and imaginitive and his accent tops it off nicely.

8 Ellen Degeneres

Yeah, I know she’s not somebody you usually think about when you think about stand up comedy.  At least not in the last decade or so.  Still, Ellen has a simple way of setting up jokes that catch you off guard.  Most of her stuff keeps away from personal stories but instead focuses on the everyday stuff we all take for granted.  Thoughts we may have half-formed ourselves but let go of pretty quickly.  Those thoughts do deserve a look though, if only to laugh at how stupid we all can be.

9 Doug Benson

Doug Benson is probably the biggest stoner who has ever held down a job with any reliability.  Get ready for a lot of pot humor since it is his bread and butter but once you’ve accepted that, it gets better.  He has a tendency to giggle along with the crowd which should be annoying but ends up being infectious. His jokes also tend to take a lot of left turns out of nowhere so I end up being caught off guard and laughing harder.  A guy I thought was a one-note stoner comedian ended up being a fun listen.

10 Gabriel Iglesias

Gabriel Iglesias is another guy who looked one note when I first heard his stand up.  He talked alot about how he’s fat (not fat, Fluffy!).  Again, this should have gotten tiresome but the thing is, he was just so damned excited about it.  His enthusiasm flows through every single word he delivers.   He talks a lot about stuff that has really happened to him or at least close enough to seem real.   He has an interesting perspective culturally who lights up like a roman candle when he tells jokes.  If that makes any sense.

11 George Carlin

I have deep respect for George Carlin.   Though, to be honest, I didn’t like his earlier work.  The hippy, dippiness of his earlier work seemed too unfocused and to insubstantial.   He was playing characters instead of speaking from the heart.  In his latter work he never talked about himself too much but he spoke straight from the heart.  He dissected language, pointed out hypocrisy and proudly stated his opinions.  Sure it could come with heavy sarcasm and deadly cynicism but I always liked that.

Top 11 TV Shows On Right Now 2014

September 24, 2014

Since I did this list two years ago, eighty percent of the shows I loved ended or were canceled or moved to Yahoo.  Thankfully television is a non-stop fountain of good (and bad) shows.  So here’s another Top 11 list excluding Pro-Wrestling.  (See Why I Love Pro-Wrestling for that)

1. Gravity Falls

Released by Disney, this cartoon is endearing and really funny.  The characters are so well rounded as well as intelligently written.  The jokes come fast and furious and the writers have a knack for hitting you with a quick tag after something sad or endearing happened that catches you off guard.  Speaking of endearing or sad, it’s not always the happiest show.  Sure, we’re not talking deep agony but characters get angsty, frustrated and angry at one another.  On top of that, there’s a complex X-Files like mystery arc going on in the show and often a mystery or paranormal happening of the week.

2. Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail

I have watched a lot of stand up shows since discovering them in the early nineties.  They usually consist of one comedian doing a long set or several comedians doing short sets, edited for television.  Most of the lesser known comedians stand in front of a backdrop  with their name on it.  This show is not that.  I am a huge fan of both Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani separately from their podcasts and stand up routines.  They have put on a weekly comedy show in the Meltdown Theater in the back of Meltdown Comics for years.  Just recently they got a deal with Comedy Central to film it.  Short clips of the stand up acts are intercut with the comics hanging backstage and shooting the bull.  It’s really, really entertaining.

3. Rick and Morty

This show is absolutely insane.  It should be, it comes from the mind of Dan Harmon (Community) and Justin Roiland (Accomplished Voice Actor) who are long time friends.  I think I’ve mentioned how big of a Dan Harmon fan I am but I hadn’t really experienced much of Justin Roiland.  Justin Roiland plays the two leads, a boy and his mad scientist grandfather, and is an amazing voice actor.  He usually does high squeaky voices for his roles but in this he does a ten year old boy and mimics and embellishes Dan Harmon’s speech pattern to portray Rick Sanchez, mad scientist.  I can’t push this show enough.  It’s kind of an unexpected hit.

4. Once Upon a Time

I am a huge fan of fairy tales, myths and legends.  More than that, I’m actually a huge Disney animated films nerd.  So what happens when you take myths, legends, fairy tales, Disney and real life and throw it in a blender?  A show I binge watched the hell out of.  The novelty that sucks you in is getting to see your favorite characters in a different light (Bisexual Mulan, anyone?).   What kept me around was the great acting and compelling stories.  The story is that all of these legendary characters have been thrust into the real world and merged with mundane people.  The way the show operates is that each episode is divided between the present and a series of flashbacks.   The present scenes forward the central plot and the flashbacks help to flesh out the characters’ history.

5. Arrow

This show surprised the hell out of me.  When I heard that there was going to be a Green Arrow origin show, I thought that it would be like Smallville.  Smallville was often good but just as often it was “good enough”.  Smallville also often felt soap opera-ish and succumbed to the CW formula more often that not.  Arrow feels different.  It feels a lot more like the great work that’s being done by Marvel Studios and also the great work at DC Animated.  The show has been through so many twists and turns that I honestly do not know where it is going next.

6. Adventure Time
It feels like this cartoon has become a national obsession.  I know that it became an obsession of mine for a little while when I found out about the Marceline/Ice King storyline.  Tears nearly fell people.  The show is funny, weird, sad and exciting all at once or sometimes just in various combinations of the four.  It certainly does not hurt to have John DiMaggio voice one of the major characters of the show.  I have rarely seen a cartoon of this magnitude maintain such a consistent mythos that it can draw from.  Even so it’s very accessible for the first timer and there are several jumping on points.

7. Doctor Who.

The show that literally keeps reinventing itself to stay fresh.  I held off on writing this because I had not started watching the new series but now I am four episodes in.  It remains brilliant and an entirely different dynamic from the Matt Smith era and the David Tennant era or any era before it.  Peter Capaldi brings a lot of gravity and dry, dry humor to the character that it’s such a pleasant surprise when we’re hit with a bit of silliness now and then.   A lot of people claim that one Doctor is better than the other but I can’t decide.  It’s always shaky going from one Doctor the next but once you get a few episodes in you should be sold.

8. The Blacklist

James Spader is a very loveable asshole on this show.  Even though it is increasingly hard to tell who is a good guy and who is a bad guy, The Blacklist is an amazing show.  It has an ensemble cast but the show would have been nothing without James Spader.  I thought that this show would be just another procedural, just this time with the CIA instead of law enforcement officials.  On the surface, the Reddington character is very much like Richard Castle or Patrick Jane.  A maverick outside who eventually becomes accepted by the authorities because of how good they are at solving crimes.  Not so here.  After an entire season we are no closer to discovering if the central character is a good guy or a bad guy.  I really like that.

9. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
I am huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as created by Disney and Marvel Comics (although Disney only became involved a few movies into the process).  Since this show is connected to that universe, I wanted to devour it before it even hit the plate.  I was a huge fan of Clark Gregg’s Agent Phil Coulson from the MCU and he remains a huge selling point for the show.  The ensemble is strong but really keeps me coming back are the subtle and not-so-subtle connections to a greater universe.  To have Glenn Talbot or Maria Hill or Victoria Hand or any number of minor characters from the comics show up fleshes out a universe that is already getting pretty meaty.  This show has steadily gotten better as it has progressed and I suspect that will continue to happen.

10. Perception

This is your usual procedural like the ones I alluded to above where an outsider consults with law enforcement and helps them do a better job.  In this show, Dr. Daniel Pierce is a neuroscientist and an unmedicated schizophrenic.  Since we follow the character of Dr. Pierce, we are never quite sure what is real and what is brain chemistry.  The show’s strength relies mainly on Eric McCormack (aka the only person stomachable from Will and Grace) who puts in really strong performances.  He is assisted by a great ensemble cast.  Rachael Leigh Cook kicks major butt as a tough but loyal FBI agent named Kate Moretti who is also a major highlight of the show.

11. Grimm

Once again, I love fairy tales and myths and this show comes at them from a different angle than Once Upon a Time or most shows that I have seen.  This show posits that the creatures from the tales were always there among us but were able to hide their true natures from humanity and blend in.  The Big Bad Wolf is a clock repairman down the street and the three little pigs are arson inspectors downtown.   Through the main character, a human who can see the true natures of these creatures, we see glimpses into a completely foreign society buried within our own.

Some that didn’t make the list:  
Community – because it left Television and is now an internet show .
Game of Thrones – because you root for somebody and then they die.
True Detective – because the season ended and I’m wary of how Season 2 will go.
Sherlock – I think of the series as mini-movies not television episodes. Excellent series, though.
The Daily Show and The Colbert Report – It was hard leaving them off but they’re great.
Other shows – I either don’t like them or have not seen them yet.


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