Friday, July 11, 2008

Crickets Read My Mind

Been ruminating on the FISA vote, primarily Chris Dodd's "heroic" efforts to save Lady Constitution from the piranha pool, but it's the weekend, I'm a bit burnt, and a few readers have complained about my recent dour, negative takes on our consumer paradise, so I'll save that post for Monday.

My son and I were hanging out yesterday, sitting on the couch, shooting breeze, when I clicked on the set and arrived about five minutes into "The Brothers Solomon." Written by Will Forte and directed by Bob Odenkirk, "Brothers" is about two, er, brothers who want to give their dying father a grandchild before he expires. Unable to coax women into getting pregnant, they go the surrogate route, and most of the movie focuses on their preparation as two dads. Forte and Will Arnett play the brothers, and though neither one has done much for me in the past, their chemistry here is quite funny. It's always nice to be caught off-guard by comedy you don't expect, and Forte's script is filled with inspired, absurdist gags. He's got a strange comic mind, and while "Brothers" isn't a classic, it is very amusing, and the boy and I laughed through most of it.

Someone stitched together random clips from the film, leaving out some of the better bits, but this will give you an idea of what I mean. The shot of Malin Ackerman in a wet bikini isn't funny, but honestly, would you want it to be?

And what Perrin-centric comedy post would be complete without more "Fridays" clips?

I've received a certain measure of hell from several people (you know who you are, so don't even try to casually glance away from the screen) concerning my love for "Fridays," some of whom are in the biz, or were. Why that show? they haughtily ask. Well, I've touched on this before, but I really haven't explained the core of my interest.

"Fridays" appeared at a time when I was writing and performing for Kamakaze Radio, the satirical group I co-founded in Indianapolis with my writing partner Jim Buck, and Mike Owens, who came and went throughout our two-year existence. This was a period of intense creativity for me, much of it previously unexplored or even understood. I wrote a ton of comedy material back then, tapping every form and style I possibly could, sometimes writing in no ready form at all. It was a very stimulating time. So when "Fridays" premiered, I was right there at the beginning, and stayed with the show until its cancellation in early '82.

Unlike Jim, who was indifferent to "Fridays," I saw it as a doppelganger of sorts, a parallel effort to what we were doing at the Broad Ripple Playhouse. For me, "Fridays" represented comedy risk at a moment when I couldn't get enough. I identified with its early rough patch, when that show's writers tried anything and everything, from dopey to conceptual to of course political. It pushed me to take chances in my comedy, and like "Fridays," my efforts were decidedly mixed until I hit my stride.

Watching "Fridays" now revives those inspired emotions. It reminds me of a less-jaded period, when anything seemed possible. This was a few years before my experiences in the LA comedy scene and my near-immersion in sitcom writing, when those final stars were sandblasted from my eyes. My feelings are nostalgic, sure, but there are deeper emotions as well. It was perhaps the purest, happiest creative phase of my life. "Fridays" keeps that young comedy writer alive.

Aren't you glad you asked?

Here's Michael Richards as Dick, the wannabe ladies man and all-around loser, an early draft of Kramer, trying to impress Brandis Kemp, who usually played straightperson to Richards' bumbling character.

Richards again, as Battle Boy. Although this was a popular recurring bit, Battle Boy was decidedly limited. Still, I like the energy. With Kemp, whose little girl had a crush on Battle Boy, Melanie Chartoff, Mark Blankfield, and Maryedith Burrell as the abusive mother.

Finally, a breaking-the-fourth-wall sketch featuring Richards, Burrell, Chartoff, and Larry David. A comment on a comment about attempting new concepts for the sake of attempting them. Back when comedians did such things.