Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.”
Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!
Greg Fitzsimmons is a solid, tight comedy writer. That talent won him four Daytime Emmys as part of the Ellen DeGeneres Show staff, made his book Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption From An Irish Mailbox a worthy read, and helps make him a stand-out onstage. He’s a veteran with more than 20 years of experience as a comic, which makes it a happy occasion to see he’s finally getting his first one-hour special, called Life on Stage, on Comedy Central. That’s the resume Fitzsimmons brings, which means it’s not surprising that Life is filled with clever material, but disappointing when he indulges in a few tired premises.
He is engaging from the start, establishing a philosophy that life is for living. Fitzsimmons believes young people don’t take advantage of their youth these days. “You’re conservative; you’re guarded,” he says. “You don’t do coke.” He then urges a young woman in the front row to try cocaine: “Do it! Not a lot. Don’t get hooked. You don’t have the money to get hooked; you’re poor.”
Enjoy being young, because you won’t be beautiful forever. You won’t be able to indulge yourself later on. Your first day is your best day, and it’s all downhill from there. That’s the message from Fitzsimmons’s voice of authority, someone who previously let his friends convince him to quit drinking. It was, he says, a mistake. He could handle his drinking; it was his friends who had the problem. Sure, he has kids now, and he should probably be saving for college, but if the kids are smart enough, they’ll get scholarships. If not, they shouldn’t go to college. In his ideal life, Fitzsimmons would spend his last days running down the street drunk and in debt, trailed by an army of his illegitimate children, buying them all cake on credit.
The friction with that philosophy comes when Fitzsimmons reveals that he exercises (even though it hurts), he bought a Prius to celebrate his midlife crisis, and he had beautiful hair just long enough to get his wife to marry him before it fell out. He’s smart to begin Life with a laissez-faire attitude, because it provides context to some of the more everyday middle-aged complaints that follow.
The special is peppered with a few standard bits any comedian could have written, and that’s where Fitzsimmons loses momentum. Men will do anything for oral sex. Women look beautiful when they masturbate; men don’t. White guys can’t use certain racially-charged words. Fitzsimmons uses “colored” and “negro” as his examples. He can’t say those words, but he can write checks to the NAACP and the United Negro College Fund. That’s been pointed out by comedians (and civilians) in the past, and Fitzsimmons doesn’t put a new spin on it. It seems highly unlikely he was ever chastised for using those words in his day-to-day speech. But these speed bumps are the exception to the rule. Fitzsimmons is smarter than that material, and for most of Life, he shows it.
By Nick A. Zaino III
For more great comedy from top Comedy Central veterans, check 0ut:
Friday, February 14 I Nick Griffin – Louisville, Kentucky Nick has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman nine times, and has also been seen on Conan, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Comedy Central. Originally from Kansas City, Nick now lives in New York CIty, where he performs regularly at the Comedy Cellar. Joining Nick are Ben Moore (a regular on Bob and Tom), and Raanan Hershberg.
Friday, February 21 I Mike Vecchione – Pittsfield, Massachusetts From the producer of the spectacular Laugh Lounge comedy shows at Spice Dragon, comes a full night of comedy at the Top of the Crowne Plaza. Each night will feature four of the best local/regional comics followed by a national touring comic! As recently heard on Marc Maron’s prestigious WTFpod, we have brilliantly funny headliner Mike Vecchione (Comedy Central specials, NBC’s Last Comic Standing and The Tonight Show, winner of the People’s Choice Award at the 2010 NY Comedy Festival). Hosted by Thomas Attila Lewis.
Saturday, February 22 I Kurt Metzger – Jersey City, New Jersey Kurt is an American comedian, actor and writer. Metzger’s stand-up act was featured on Comedy Central Presents, and his hour-long stage act titled Kurt Metzger Talks to Young People About Sex was released digitally on Comedy Central Records. He provides the voice of Randall Skeffington in Comedy Central’s animated series Ugly Americans. He has also written for television programs such as Chappelle’s Show and Inside Amy Schumer.