Texting Was So Different

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This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Jenny Slate Delights On ‘WTF’

by Stephanie Simon

jenny_slateThe comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We're here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.

WTF with Marc Maron - Jenny Slate
WTF_with_Marc_MaronLeigh: This week's episode of WTF with Marc Maron is so good, I'm still coming down from a contact high, which can only be attributed to Jenny Slate's incredibly delightful energy. On top of that she's got the most hilarious and refreshing perspective on things. Take aging, for instance. I don't think you'll hear too many people talk about how they look forward to the day their hair is 100 feet long and their skin is like bark. If you've ever read or heard any interview with Slate, it seems like it's not only mandatory for the interviewer to bring up her departure from SNL, but also make a joke about how she must get asked about it all the time. And, you can usually see the question coming from a mile away. This time, however, when the topic of her time at SNL comes up so naturally it's the story of how she got hired that she shares. It's a very moving story and Slate even gets a little emotional. As a listener, I dare you to not get overwhelmed with feelings. It's great to hear Maron and Slate talk about people she admired growing up, like Ruth Gordon, Madeline Kahn, Gilda Radner, and Laraine Newman, who she describes as "women that have a cool style and can't be replaced." After her success with Obvious Child, Marcel the Shell, and the fact that she's on just about every TV show right now, it's safe to say Slate herself is most definitely a woman with a cool style who can't be replaced. Maron sums it up best at the end of the episode: "How can you not love her?"

Judge John Hodgman - I Pledge a Grievance to the Flag
Judge john hodgmanPablo: This week's case before the Honorable Judge John Hodgman is, at first glance (with your ears), an easy win for the defendant. Plaintiff Christian wants his wife Corrin to let him raise a flag outside their newly-bought home proclaiming his love of Alabama football. Corrin, on the other hand, thinks having the interior of their house decked out in Crimson Tide memorabilia is more than enough to placate the dark lord Nick Saban. Because of Hodgman's disdain for sports, you'd think the judge would swiftly rule in Corrin's favor. But in a surprise decision, he rules that the couple must raise their 'Bama flag on gamedays… as well as a Toronto Argonauts flag with the most Canadian rallying cry ever: "Pull together!" That still doesn't make it any less tacky… and I say this as someone who has a pair of authentic Dodger Stadium seats gathering cobwebs in my backyard.

Never Not Funny - Nick Kroll
never not funnyElizabeth:  Jimmy Pardo covers all the hot topics this week on Never Not Funny, including Serial, Charles C. Johnson, and Eaten Alive—the Discovery special, not as guest Nick Kroll guessed a reunion of the cast of the J. Lo movie Anaconda or the Nikki Minaj video. Nick talks about his decision to end Kroll Show after three seasons and his childhood love of the Mets. Jimmy admits that he's never actually seen the show, but Nick isn't offended, saying that he doesn't watch or listen to a lot of things his friends make. (Like Mulaney?) Kroll doesn't expect people to watch his show and thinks it would be better if people were just honest about it. So in the new year, let's all just be honest about the fact that we don't watch our friends' web series or listen to their podcasts.

No Pressure To Be Funny - Festive Edition 2014
NPTBFMarc: I don’t pretend to understand all the issues that are discussed on No Pressure To Be Funny, the excellent monthly panel show from England. That’s partially because a number of the subjects are UK-centric and partially because I’m not as well read as I should be. Each month the show’s creators Alistair Barrie and Nick Revell stir a pot of lively discussions featuring journalists and comedians. (This month it’s Hal Cruttenden, Michael Deacon, Jo Jo Smith and first-timer James O’Brien, who normally serves as the host for the show.) While the results are frequently humorous, the show stays true to its title and not everything is played for laughs. The panel has a field day knocking Russell Brand and his style of comedy around for a bit. At one point Deacon points out how actually numbers make ludicrous one of Brand’s points in his recent book Revolution, which prompts Cruttenden to say, “You are ruining the poetry with facts.” A lot of this episode keeps poking at continuing UKIP (United Kingdom Independent Party) scandals, which are making easy targets of a host of politicians. Series co-creator and comedian Revell fires up a wicked salvo against the lazy, self-entitled nouveau riche and how they compare so poorly to everyone else during this season of giving. (I love his line: “I’ve acquired ADHD from living in the modern world, although I prefer to call it ‘multitasking.'") If you’re not afraid to learn a little something along with your comedy, you’re likely going to enjoy this show.

You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes - Dana Carvey
You-Made-It-WeirdMarc: Pete Holmes is no stranger to “going deep” with some of the guests on You Made It Weird. And it’s a treat to hear his conversation with SNL veteran Dana Carvey, a comedic performer that we don’t hear from very often or know very much about what makes him tick. In a conversation that verges on three hours, Carvey lets his guard down a bit to reveal elements of a difficult home life, fighting stage fright to get up on stage, and details of his health problems including a botched bypass that were never fully revealed. Maybe the secret was that Carvey was just off a 13-hour road trip and Holmes had just finished an appointment with his shrink. (Carvey told me in a conversation shortly after this interview was recorded that he didn’t know what to expect and he just decided to go wherever the conversation ended up going.) If you’ve ever wondered what’s behind the man behind The Church Lady (one of many Carvey characters that gets talked about here), this is going to be a good listen.

Nerdist - Lisa Kudrow
nerdistZoe: Lisa Kudrow is so goddamn awesome I don't know what to do about it. This week she swings by Nerdist to talk about it all: The Comeback, her Second City beginnings, life as a Friends star, and whether or not Twitter is like screaming in a car except everyone can hear you. Hearing her jump from Friends in one breath to Web Therapy in the next, it's apparent how effortlessly Kudrow has made the ever-changing entertainment landscape work for her. If you've been watching the second season of The Comeback, you'll have some moments where momentarily, perhaps during a laugh or an "Oh dear," you might think you're listening to Valerie Cherish recording a podcast (now that I think about it, I hope we see that one day). But then it's followed up with an acutely insightful comment on human nature, and it reminds you of how intelligent someone has to be to play her characters with the nuance and vulnerability that Kudrow does. Hardwick mentions that he loves characters with a balance of self-centeredness and good intentions, and she adds, "Well, [Valerie's] good intentions are mostly for herself to get back in the spotlight." And finally—not to get your hopes up—Hardwick announces a movement to get a sequel to Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. For all of our sakes, let's hope he's not kidding.

Other Podcasts We're Listening To:

Desus vs. Mero - Don Lemon Party
The Poundcast - Moshe, Natasha, Brent
The Adventure Zone Here There Be Gerblins
Selected Shorts - Bad Boy: Celebrating Hunter S. Thompson
Hollywood Handbook - Thomas Middleditch, Our Close Friend
Nerdist Writer's Panel - Year in Review
U Talkin' U2 to Me? – Holiday Special
Topics - Unknown

Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.

Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family's Melissa & Joey.

Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.

Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.

Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!

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Who’s The Prey Now?

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Welcome Mat Memories

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The post Welcome Mat Memories appeared first on The Meta Picture.

Stephen Colbert Rarely Broke Character. But When He Did, It Was 100 Percent Hysterical.

Cracking up at the wrong time -- it can happen to the very best of us.

Just ask Stephen Colbert. For 10 seasons, the talk show host -- masquerading as a right-wing conservative on "The Colbert Report" -- almost never broke character.

But once in a blue moon, even he succumbed to the hilarity of his own jokes.

stephen-colbert

In the 14-minute supercut above, released in anticipation of show's very last episode, which airs Thursday, watch some the comedian’s best bloopers on the show.

Nation, we double-dare you to not crack up.

H/T Rolling Stone

Things Got Weird Between Megyn Kelly And Obama At White House Christmas Party

Making small talk at social gatherings can be challenging for everyone. But it would seem the practice is especially uncomfortable when you're a Fox News host at President Barack Obama's Christmas party.

Megyn Kelly found this out the hard way when at the annual holiday bash she found herself mingling with the commander-in-chief.

According to Kelly, things went downhill when President Obama asked her if she thought the White House was "a pretty fun place."

"It is," Kelly shot back, awkwardly. "Maybe we’ll be here in two years.”

The comment came off as if Kelly, a Republican, thought a GOP candidate would win the upcoming 2016 presidential election, but the Fox News anchor insists she wasn't trying to talk any trash. Instead, Kelly claims the quip was a flubbed attempt at making a joke about running for president with her husband.

“I think all he was thinking was, ‘Who is we? Oh, she’s with Fox News. Oh, I don’t like Fox News. Oh, that’s for Republicans, she must mean the Republicans! Is this a shot at me at my Christmas party?’” Kelly told Jimmy Kimmel during an interview Wednesday night.

"President Obama, I apologize,” she continued. “I didn’t mean it that way.”

Watch the video above for the full clip.

H/T Mediaite





10 Christmas Expectations vs. The Reality That We’ve Come To Accept

If "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" taught us anything, it's that the idea of the perfect Christmas is one hilarious myth, but it's the things that don't go according to plan that are usually the most memorable.

Here are some prime examples of our idyllic expectations, and the reality of what ends up happening around Dec. 25.


1. Decking Out Your House With Intricate Christmas Lights

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

Getty/Funny Junk


2. Putting The Star On Top Of The Christmas Tree

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

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3. Beautifully Wrapping Gifts In Christmas Paper

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

Getty/Imgur


4. Taking A Child's Photo On Santa's Lap

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

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5. Snapping A Sexy Holiday Selfie

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

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6. Enjoying A Classy, Professional Office Holiday Party

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

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7. Gathering The Kids For A Classic Group Photo

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

Getty/Imgur



8. Crafting A D.I.Y. Christmas Stocking

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

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9. Asking Your Husband To "Get Into The Holiday Spirit"

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

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10. Remembering The True Meaning Of Christmas

EXPECTATION:


REALITY:

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NEXT: New Year's Resolution Expectations vs. Reality

Snake Attack

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The Lonely Island Takes Turns on the Mic with Reggie Watts

by Megh Wright

Here's the latest installment of Comedy Bang! Bang!'s web series Reggie Makes Music featuring Friday's guests The Lonely Island, who all seem a little reluctant to take their turn on the mic but make the best of their very awkward situation. Bonus points to Reggie Watts for wearing the most adorable Christmas sweater of all time.

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School Punishes Blind Kid By Replacing His Cane With a Pool Noodle

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Via Fox News: Dakota Nafzinger, who was born with bilateral anopthalmia, which left him without eyes, had the cane confiscated after a bus driver claimed he hit another student with one the school had furnished, according to the channel. In its place, the Gracemor Elementary School student was given the bent, green pool noodle because, according to a North Kansas City School District spokeswoman, he fidgets and needs something to hold...

His mother, Rachel, said it is unfair that his punishment involves something that he needs to get around. The report pointed out that he attended his sister's concert with the noodle.

"It's a lot harder with this," the boy told the station. "Can't feel things."

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Sometimes You Just Need to Shout it to the World

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Horror at 3:00 AM

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This Is So Wrong In So Many Levels

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Santa Baby: I Just Can’t Quit You

Oh, Santa. Baby. How long will our merry go round keep going round? Do we need couples counseling again this year?

You and I have been in our indescribably on-again-off-again relationship for too long. I've been writing about our tortured love for how many years?

In 2011 it was off.

2012, back on again.

In 2013 we acted like friends with benefits.

But it wasn't enough. Sure I had Adam Sandler for Thankschanukah, but you can't intersperse dreidels with Christmas cookies and call it one big happy holiday. Thankschanukah is gone, and as my friend's 3-year-old said as she wept for a Christmas tree (when reminded of her joyous Hanukkah celebration) "But I'm so over Hannukuh!"

Ah, Santa, sweetheart--you've tortured me since childhood. You took the place of Kathy Murphy (hissing at me when I was 9 years old, "You'll never get into Heaven, no matter what you do."

Year in, year out, there I was again, knocking on the pearly gates. (Because that's what Christmas can look like when you're child's nose is pressed up against those gleaming Macy's windows. Heaven on earth.)

In 2012, my therapist had enough. He told me I'd been whining about my unrequited love for too long. "It's not him; it's you," said Dr. Dreidel. "Enough. Get over it. You want him so bad? Go after him."

So I celebrated. I wriggled back into your fuzzy red arms. But really, were you there for me?

I know, baby. There are many (maybe most) Jewish people who grow up warm and secure in their faith, those for whom the eight days of Hanukah don't have to compete with Christmas: Jewish nurses and firefighters who take Christmas Eve shifts to ensure that their Christian brethren are home for the holidays. These are the lucky Jews with long standing traditions of Chinese food and a movie on Christmas.

But darlin', I've never been one of them.

There were no Hanukkah (I can't even figure out how to spell it right) traditions in my house, nothing to fall back on, so I longed for that Rockefeller Center sparkle. My sister and I even hung stockings one year. (What were we thinking? That the keys to the kingdom lay in our old limp socks?) Mom was out on a date; we stayed up as late as possible, until, exhausted, we went to bed giddy with the prospect of what would be spilling out the tops of those socks.

Mom must have thought we'd once again left our dirty clothes around the house, because when we woke, those damn socks were in the hamper.

As a teen, I went out with a similarly disposed Jewish friend and bought a pathetic Charlie Brown tree on Christmas Eve and smuggled it up to her room, decorating it with God knows what. The dangly earrings we'd buy with our baby sitting money? Her mother was not happy.

Other years I spent a Christmas with my best friend's family, trying to be as adorably Christian as possible, praying they'd invite me back.

Finally, I left home and gave you up, big guy, for a few blessed too-hip-for-holidays years.

Then I became a mother. Christmas reared its head. I was determined that my children would have a big old piece of the American pie. Why shouldn't you love us, Santa? We lived with a non-Jewish couple in a rambling Victorian House and I fell into Christmas as though I were Jesus' sister. Religion played no role for any of us: it was simply an orgy of food, presents, lights, good will, and Christmas stockings so full we needed overflow bags. You were there, Santa baby. (Though there was always a fly in my Christmas pie. Friends, who hadn't stepped in a church since they were baptized, exclaimed as though I were crashing their personal kingdom: "you celebrate Christmas?")

The kids got older. Christmas became firmly entrenched, including building our own family heirlooms straight from the Crate & Barrel collection. Still, I felt as though I were crashing Jesus' birthday party. At a certain point I began to get that Barbra Streisand in "The Way We Were" feeling with you, Santa. You were my goyishe Robert Redford who I'd never truly possess. You'd hang out with me, for years even, but you'd never really make a commitment.

I'd never get your ring.

The kids got even older. I shrunk Christmas. I got a little standoffish with you. A miniature rosemary tree replaced the light-crusted evergreen. Orgy of presents stayed, but some years I'd name them presents.

But it wasn't enough, Santa baby. I just couldn't quit you. I didn't have the will to spend the entire day at the movies. Chinese food wasn't enough after years of licking peppermint sticks. It was good when we met up last year, right? But I'm tired of our back and forth, honey. I find myself jonesing for you again.

I got those old Santa Blues. I put that weird aluminum tree up again--the one I tell my husband is hung with Stars of David. (Will he notice you in the corner, Santa? Does he see you hiding behind the menorah?)

But we know, right? No one will be the wiser if I throw a bit of glitter in with the Chinese food. Come on in, Santa. Just this once. One bite of brisket never hurt anyone.

Oreo Cookie Balls Song feat. JINX

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It’s Spelled Cologne

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One Little Bulldog’s Jumping On The Bed…And No One’s Going To Dare Tell Him To Stop

For many of us sleepyheads, the bed is our happy place.

And that's no different for this 4-month-old English bulldog named Chunk. He just received his brand new memory foam bed and really couldn't be more excited. Watch the little guy explode with energy, because he knows he’s about to drop and take the best snooze of his life.

Trust us, Chunk. You're not the only one that celebrates the sight of their cuddly paradise.

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Stephen Colbert Has A Yard Sale With Nine Years Of ‘Colbert Report’ Props And Nonsense

Freedom isn't free. It's actually a dollar.

Haven't you always wondered what they do with all the miscellaneous props and doodads collected over the years after a show is canceled? Like when "Wheel of Fortune" finally ends, Pat Sajak will have one giant circular spinning coffee table in his living room. (At least in our dreams he will.)

The nine year run of "The Colbert Report" has come to an end, and Stephen had an awful lot of crap to get rid of that he'd accumulated over that stretch. And what's a more American way of getting rid of your useless junk than a yard sale?

Check out this clip from the final "Colbert Report," airing Thursday Dec. 18, as Stephen parts with nine years of collected freedom trinkets and liberty knickknacks.

Australian ‘Millionaire’ Contestant Asks To Start Over After Missing Easy Question

Is that your final answer? Like ... really?

On a recent episode of Australia's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" spinoff show, "Millionaire Hot Seat," a contestant did the one thing you don't want to do. After being asked, "Which of these is not a piece of jewelry commonly worn to symbolize a relationship between two people?" Whitney Beseler chose "anniversary ring" instead of "burger ring," missing her first question on the show.

For those who don't know, burger rings are a snack food and probably shouldn't be given to your significant other as a symbol of your love. Well, you know, unless that significant other is Ms. Beseler.

The contestant told host Eddie McGuire, "That is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me." But seriously, she shouldn't feel too bad. Plenty of people have missed the first question on "Millionaire" before, and it's not like she asked to cut the cameras and restart everything.

Oh, wait. Never mind. She did that, too. At least the show had an awesome consolation prize to show her just how much they care.

H/T BuzzFeed

That’s Too Good

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Professor Says Elf On The Shelf Is Preparing Your Child To Live In A Dystopian Police State

Philosopher and cultural theorist Michel Foucault warned of a future in which society is under constant surveillance, using the "panopticon" -- a model prison surveillance system designed by 18th century political philosopher Jeremy Bentham -- as a symbol of modern societies in which surveillance is used as a form of disciplinary control.

That future may be here, in the form of a sprightly little elf telling children that they better not pout and they better not cry, because Santa is coming to town -- and his little helpers are always watching.

The Elf on the Shelf doll, based on the popular Elf on the Shelf children's book, has become a full-blown cultural phenomenon in recent years, and Dr. Laura Pinto, a professor of digital education at the University of Ontario Institute Of Technology, for one, is concerned.

The doll is used in the home and in schools -- perched in a different location each day -- to encourage children to be on their best behavior so that they make it onto Santa's "nice" list. As the story goes, the elf has been sent from Santa ("the boss") as a special scout to help create his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts the elf and gives him a name, the elf takes to his watchtower in various parts of the house and monitors the children's behavior. During the Christmas season, children are told that they must play by not only their parents' or teachers' rules, but also by the elf's rules.

In Bentham's panopticon, the inmates never knew exactly when the watchers were watching, so they were forced to behave at all times as if this were a possibility. Similarly, Pinto argues, though the children don't know if their behavior will be caught by the elf, the possibility is always there, and therefore influences their behavior at all times.

"The Elf on the Shelf serves functions that are aligned to the official functions of the panopticon," Pinto wrote in a paper for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. "In doing so, it contributes to the shaping of children as governable subjects."

If the children are the subjects, then Santa is Big Brother, and his elves are the Ministry of Truth. Pinto's concern with the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon is that the children see the surveillance not as play, but instead accept it as real.

"Elf on the Shelf presents a unique (and prescriptive) form of play that blurs the distinction between play time and real life," Pinto wrote. "Children who participate in play with The Elf on the Shelf doll have to contend with rules at all times during the day: they may not touch the doll, and they must accept that the doll watches them at all times with the purpose of reporting to Santa Claus."

The children are at all times subjected to an authoritative elvish "gaze" -- "similar to the dynamic between citizen and authority in the context of the surveillance state," Pinto said.

Pinto points to a Huffington Post blog by Wendy Bradford, whose children "insist on ringing the doorbell before entering their home to make sure that their Elf on the Shelf doll, 'Chippey,' is prepared for their arrival, thus underscoring their awareness (and acceptance) of the surveillance apparatus."

Pinto is concerned that the Elf sets children up for the uncritical acceptance of surveillance structures. You know, sort of like their parents.

On the other hand, it could just be a toy.

Here's a short video on the subject from Pinto:

The Book Forest In Berlin

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Looks Like the Engine Froze

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Science is Magic

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Civil Discussion Regarding Privacy and Vulnerablity

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You’re Invincible, Don’t Worry!

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I Can’t Believe I’ve Lived To See This

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One Colbert Nation, Under God: Stephen Colbert Is America’s Cool Pastor

by Devin Klos

colbertIt started out as a joke. It ends as a near institution to the point that this guy guest hosted it earlier in the month.

In the coming days and weeks, much will be written about the cultural impact of The Colbert Report. From tapping into the meta world we live in, to the awe we all share that one performer could pull off the same character nightly for almost a decade without it getting stale. Needless to say, what Colbert and his team have achieved is beyond reproach. Yet in my opinion, the single greatest achievement of his show was bringing religion and faith in to comedy in such a fun, sincere way. Instead of tearing it down, he celebrated it and wore his own beliefs on his sleeve, even under the guise of his character. His absence from late night for the next few months leaves us missing not just great comic genius but a much needed discussion about the power of faith in our media landscape.

It's not news that he is a man who doesn’t hide his faith. Still, as the show wraps up its run, a look back at what a remarkable achievement all of this has been is worthwhile.

Religion has for a very long time been a moving target for comedy, often as a sign of people’s lack of intelligence. Comedians from Bill Maher to George Carlin have had an open disdain for what they viewed as the power of magical thinking and how it would cloud people from the truth. Oftentimes they argued that religion itself was the very cause of most of human suffering and opined for a world that would just wise up.

The Colbert Report’s chief mission, much like The Daily Show's, is to expose truths within our society’s machinations (and make us laugh, obviously). Each night, they attempt to pull the curtain back to reveal that the all powerful Oz is just a man with special effects and a megaphone. Whereas most comedians go with the easy joke that religion is BS, that God is another version of this Oz to control the masses, Colbert wants us to look harder and realize that it’s the message and not the megaphone that matters.

What Mr. Colbert tapped into at a very young age is that one can be both a skeptic and a man of faith at the same time. Much of this he has credited with him upbringing, which included parents who were religiously devout but also believed in intellectualism. That faith was greatly tested when Colbert’s family suffered many tragedies, but it never wavered completely and Colbert came out the other side as a man not afraid to show it. Indeed, when he chooses to, Colbert has been an adamant defender of his faith. When his guest Bart Ehrman takes Colbert on in a philosophical debate about divinity, for example, Colbert is more than up to the task quoting scripture right back at him.

Or when another guest comes on and makes a statement that offends those beliefs, Colbert seems to drop his persona a moment and go full-on preacher on him. Look at this exchange: “Had God not created hell, then evil would not exist,” to which Colbert responds, “Hell was created by Satan’s disobedience to God and his purposeful removal from God’s love — which is what hell is. Removing yourself from God’s love. You send yourself to hell. God does not send you there.” Whether you share in his beliefs or not, the simple fact that a discussion about God, heaven, hell and divinity is being had and that it takes a comedian to be leading this debate speak volumes.

Better still, Colbert has put himself in the shoes of other people, even if only to gain a better understanding and empathy toward them. Many years ago, during his “Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando” series of shows, Stephen actually brought his show to the soldiers in the hopes of both lifting their spirits and on some level, keeping them in the national spotlight. Far too often, our wars and battles can feel like distant headlines, fought by brave if anonymous citizens.

Just as audacious, Colbert took to a very different combat zone (Washington DC) many times to speak on behalf of migrant worker’s rights, to tear down those in high office for hypocrisies to their faces, or to demonstrate the internal workings of a shadowy money donation campaign known as a SuperPAC by creating one of his own. Colbert demonstrated the deeply held belief that the least of us are those ones who must be championed hardest. Those in power would do well to take note.

The persona Colbert plays is supposed to be a true-believer Christian on the religious right who goes on faith above fact and yet wonderfully, he is able to seamlessly pivot to pointed criticisms of this sort of blind or misused dogma. By constantly pointing out how those who trumpet that they “Love Jesus” tend to act in the most bigoted ways, he makes the case for cleansing religion of those who use it to their own ends. The layers of satire he is able to enact by simply repeating much of what a politician or public figure claims in the name of faith and then being articulate and well versed in scripture enough to cut through the fat make for a potent weapon indeed. A prime example happened early in the show’s run as he interviewed a Congressman who was using the Ten Commandments as a means of political capital but could only name… three.

There was always a general decency at his core, especially in the moments when the real man broke out, be it when he geeked out over a guest or just flubbed a camera read. That sincerity is very real and the key to not appearing sanctimonious. This is a man who practices what he preaches with a knowing wink.

Being funny about it certainly helps. Everything from his “This Week In God” segments on The Daily Show to his recurring chats with the pastor of his show show that faith and God are always ripe for the picking, especially when it comes to the humans behind it all. How many other shows even have a resident pastor, and one who can both talk honestly and crack jokes about their shared faith? That is part of the very real charm the Report always had. It was obviously crafted from a place of heart and truth, even amidst the “Truthiness” it boasted about.

Many years ago, I worked as an intern at The Daily Show. It was among the happiest achievements of my young life to that point. I was more than a bit star-struck to be in a space among so many people I respected and admit to being tongue-tied and feeling unworthy in such company. One afternoon, Stephen Colbert came in to the office. His show was about to premiere so he hadn’t spent much time in our studio. As he walked past me at my cubicle, he stopped and said, “You’re a new face, what’s your name?” I didn’t know what to really say, so I replied, “Oh, I’m just an intern.”

Colbert looked at me a moment and then said: “Just an intern? Hey, look, everybody starts somewhere. I was just an understudy at one point, but that’s just a point in time. It’s not about where you are now, or even where you hope to go, it’s who you are that matters. I’m Stephen, who are you?” I introduced myself and we shook hands. “Don’t let your place in the world dictate who you are to anyone. We all have the same merit.” Then he was gone, but his words lingered.

Those were the words of a man who has been a Sunday school teacher, who didn’t want to let his children watch the show since he feared they’d find their father insincere. The words of a hip pastor who is interested not in restoring faith in a religion as much as faith in each other. With each joke, sketch or genuine moment he has shared with us, consider that faith repaired, sir. Godspeed to you, Stephen Colbert, and to everyone who has helped you craft such a masterpiece of comedic, and spiritual genius.

Devin Klos is an actor and writer based in NY. You can follow his blog/podcast at Iworkinproduction.com and on twitter at @Devinklosprod

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Cats Love Being Unicorns

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Panda Under Fire

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5 New Year’s Resolutions Those Over 50 Should Never Make

Resolutions are for those who succumb to peer pressure, right? Besides, does anyone really think the flip of a calendar page is going to give them the determination that they've lacked thus far? We prefer a more realistic approach, and so, with the spirit of holiday exhaustion and grumpiness that we happen to be experiencing at the moment, here are five New Year's resolutions that those over 50 should never, ever make:

Resolve that 2015 is the year you will stop working.
Sorry, we just fell off our chair laughing at that one. No, my Pretties, you actually will not stop working in 2015. In fact, there is an excellent chance that you will never stop working, at least not voluntarily and at least not while you are still breathing.

You may thank the Great Recession for the derailment of your retirement plans. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1985 only 10.8 percent of the population age 65 or older was working. In 2013, it was 18.7 percent. Nope, nobody is going nowhere unless they are being pushed out the door. Speaking of which, since there are about 1.5 million unemployed Baby Boomers who still can't find work and would jump at a chance to occupy your desk, you might want to cool any nonsensical retirement talk when you're within their earshot.

Resolve that you will not be a bawling mess when your nest empties this year.
We think parents who fall apart when their first, last or any kids leave for college are simply misunderstood and are unduly criticized. Critics are fond of slapping the "empty nester" label on them, but that is just so wrong. Plus we all know what happens to empty nests: The gardener uses the hose to flush them out of the rain gutters. Nobody should be hosed for missing their children. Empty nesters are the people who devoted their lives to the support of their kids. We should be lauding them, not hosing them!

Empty nesters should just ignore those who think they need to build lives of their own now. Screw those people. They are clueless and their opinions don't matter. In fact, you should feel free to start uncorking the waterworks as early as the college application process; just thinking about your son moving to that Big City 3,000 miles away is enough to get you all teary, am I right? And you are absolutely correct: Even the dog senses his pending departure and looks depressed. It's obvious to all but the blind and the insensitive; dogs know stuff.

Your resolution should be this: I will allow myself the pleasure of being miserable when my kids leave for college. I will also allow myself the pleasure of telling off anyone who suggests I don't have a life of my own.

Resolve that you will never go on HRT.
For those who don't speak fluent Menopause, HRT stands for hormone replacement therapy. It comes in many shapes and forms and basically produces what your body no longer feels like producing. It is a near-instant end to hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and vaginal dryness. It also isn't the healthiest thing in the world for a lot of women to be on. Personally speaking, HRT was preferable to incarceration for murdering a slow grocery clerk. We mentioned irritability was a symptom, right?

While HRT used to be the gold standard when it came to treatment for menopausal symptoms, its use changed abruptly after a large clinical trial found that it posed more health risks than benefits for some people. As the concern about health hazards grew, doctors became less likely to prescribe it.

HRT is one of those never say never things. Talk to your doctor about it.

Resolve to reinvent yourself -- unless you have a real plan.
The idea that people over 50 can have a second career or chase a long-lost dream in middle age gets a lot of lip service. The problem is, it's one of those things that's easier said than done -- especially if all you do is talk about it.

If 2015 is going to be your year, you need to do more than exercise the old jawbone. You need to have a plan. You need to take the first step. People who have successfully written a second chapter in their lives all have one thing in common: They took action. They got started. They did more than talk.

Resolve to find shoes that are both stylish and comfortable.
They do not exist. You're wasting your time. Going forward into aging, shoes will either be comfortable or they will be stylish; they will not be both. You will wear flats every day and keep one pair of black heels for the annual New Year's Eve party you go to and know that you will be carrying them by the time the ball drops.

Giving up stylish shoes is probably harder than accepting elastic waist pants and drugstore hair coloring into your life. But you will. And your feet will thank you for it. Unless of course someone wants to reinvent themselves as a manufacturer of stylish comfort shoes, in which case, they will also be reinventing themselves into one very rich person.




The True Story Behind ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’

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This story was written and performed by Randy Brooks for the live, personal storytelling series Oral Fixation (An Obsession With True Life Tales) on December 13, 2011, at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas.

The theme of the show was "Home Is Where the Heart Is."

"Randy tells a hilarious story about his childhood Christmas spent with his idiosyncratic family and how it led to his writing 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,'" says Oral Fixation creator and director Nicole Stewart. "Read the story he wrote about those fun days, and be sure to watch the video below to see him sing his famous song! It's our holiday gift to you."

I'm tempted to say that when I was growing up in Kentucky in the 1950s, Christmas was a simpler affair. But of course it was simpler -- I was a kid! I had no responsibility but to sit and wait for Christmas to happen. And as far as I knew, it was simple for adults, too, since I was under the impression that Santa Claus took care of everything.

But Christmas really was simpler for the male gender back then because some believed that the women would take care of all the cooking and the cleaning. After our holiday meals, the women would clear the table and disappear into the kitchen, while the men set up a card table in the living room in front of the black-and-white television. Beer and cigars appeared, and Granddaddy and his brothers -- Uncle Lewis and Uncle Henry -- commenced playing cards with one eye and watching football with the other.

Sometimes I'd climb up in Granddaddy's lap, and he'd let me have a sip of his beer. He always drank either Schlitz or Oertle's '92. I never had to acquire a taste. I liked it right away; it tasted like Granddaddy. As he became more involved in the card game, I became more involved in the beer -- until I fell asleep in his lap.

All of us grandchildren called my grandmother Dot-Dot. "Dot" was short for Dorothy. As a toddler I added a second Dot, and it stuck. The real mystery is why anyone ever called her Dorothy in the first place since her name was Katherine.

Granddaddy suffered a stroke when I was just seven. Uncle Lewis and Uncle Henry passed away around that same time. But Dot-Dot lived on into my young adulthood.

She was a funny little thing. As time thinned her hair, she took to wearing a luxurious wig of a brunette color not found in nature among women her age. A true Kentuckian, she liked her bourbon. A memory lingers of her leaving our house one night, giggling, with wig askew, and my dad asking if she was sure she was OK to drive.

This was my mom's side of the family. I never knew my dad's parents as well. We would pay them an obligatory visit on Christmas afternoon, and I would receive a little dress shirt and bow tie or some gift similarly repugnant to a young boy.

Granddaddy Brooks died of an overabundance of Southern cooking while I was still quite young. His widow, my dad's mother, was a repository of ailments. My most enduring memory of her is that she would sit at the dinner table going, "Ooh... ooh... ooh. Well, honey, aren't you going to ask me what's wrong?"

The other fixtures around my childhood Christmas table were Great-Great-Great Cousin William and his wife, Aunt Edna. They were a colorful duo. Cousin William was vice president of a distillery (and believed in bringing his work home with him). He and Aunt Edna would have a drink or two before leaving their house, another couple at our house before dinner, and by the time we all sat down at the table, they were attacking each other like Republicans and Democrats. Cousin William liked to bait Aunt Edna by speaking ill of Sam, their dachshund. Truth be told, I think he was secretly fond of Sam, but he never failed to get a rise out of Edna by saying that he had a good mind to "slip Sam the needle." Edna would spit out some venomous response, to which Bill would reply, "I think maybe I ought to slip you the needle, Edna!" The rest of us would laugh heartily, but nervously -- never quite certain whether we were witnessing performance art or mayhem in the making.

A recurring story of Aunt Edna's had to do with their courtship. Coming home from a date on a moonless night, the porch light was burned out, and Cousin William couldn't locate the keyhole to open the door. Aunt Edna said, "I told him, Bill, if that thing had hair around it I bet you could find it!"

But back to Dot-Dot. If memory serves, she passed away in 1982. My mother tells me that Dot-Dot was a harsh taskmaster, a former school teacher who expected perfection from her children. But as the oldest grandchild, I could do no wrong. Dot-Dot and I had a special relationship.

About five years after her death, I stumbled upon a Merle Haggard song called "Grandma's Christmas Card." As I listened, I anticipated that Merle was taking us where so many country songwriters did during that period: singing the praises of some beloved figure for two verses, only to reveal in verse three that the beloved figure had passed away.

I thought, "Merle, if you were half the songwriter you think you are, you wouldn't manipulate your audience like that. You'd break the news in the first line of the song that Grandma was dead -- and then if you could still come up with three verses and a chorus, you'd really have something!"

So I climbed in bed with my guitar and wrote my own Merle Haggard Christmas song. I dredged up those childhood memories of the Christmas poker games with Granddaddy and his brothers, and most of all, Dot-Dot, with her wig and her whiskey. Had she lived just five years longer, I'm sure no one would have gotten a bigger kick out of the song that resulted. And whenever it's played on the radio, I suppose that, in a way, my relatives and their idiosyncrasies live on in other families' Christmas celebrations. Merry Christmas, everybody.

Taylor Swift Was Obsessed With Her Fan’s ’1989′ Video And Now They’re Besties

When 15-year-old Jacob Thomas created a YouTube lip sync homage to Taylor Swift's "1989" back in November, he was just celebrating his favorite pop star's latest hits.

The Ontario teen never suspected that posting this video on his T-Swift-inspired Tumblr would lead to meeting the star IRL:



According to the

Canadian Road Rage

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Dozens Of Mexican Clowns Make A Religious Pilgrimage In Devotion To Lady of Guadalupe

Dozens of professional clowns took the streets of Mexico City on Tuesday to express devotion for their country’s patron saint, the Lady of Guadalupe.

Sporting neon-bright clothes and equally colorful wigs, the clowns marched from the city center to the Basilica of Guadalupe, a Roman Catholic church.

This year’s pilgrimage marked the 26th years the clowns united to thank the saint for the work they’ve received. The clowns carried images of the Virgin with them on the trek.

“I want to give thanks to Lupita [Guadalupe] for this great blessing of being a clown because it’s a very beautiful profession,” one clown told The Guardian.

According to Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to a Native American peasant named Juan Diego in 1531. Millions make the pilgrimage to the basilica every year to venerate the relic she reportedly left behind -- an imprint of her image on a cloth.

“[We come with] faith, devotion and the willingness to move forward. Because there are many clowns who have all kinds of problems and we call on the Virgin for her help to solve them,” another clown told The Guardian.

Beach Wheelchair

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Sometime Dad Enjoys These Trips Even More Than the Kids

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30 Rock Predicted the Cancellation of ‘The Interview’

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Illuminati confirmed.

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That Profile Is Dino-Mite!

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This Defense of Kim Kardashian’s Butt is the Best Critique of Viral Videos

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Way Better Than an Ugly Sweater

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NASA Wants to Explore Venus With Manned Airships

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NASA's focus for human spaceflight seems to change every few years as we learn something new about what it will take to keep human beings alive out there. However, NASA usually picks one of a few targets. Will we go to Mars next, maybe back to the Moon, or perhaps an asteroid is a better option? NASA's Langley Research Center has put forward an interesting proposal — instead of the traditional choices, why not make the trip to Venus?

Sure, a human would be almost instantly annihilated on Venus' hellish surface, but not if they're floating among the clouds in a solar powered airship. This mission calls for a 129-meter airship, called the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC), which has a small habitat suspended below and solar panels for power.

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Oh, Wait A Second

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A Bunch Of Teens Got Their Butt Kicked By Some Goofy Old-School Video Game

The Fine Brothers are back with another gem of from their "Teens React" YouTube channel. This time, they challenge teens to try out a hilarious retro Nintendo video game, Mega Man.

The game may look kind of lame by today's standards, but it was considered pretty snazzy back in 1987. While Flappy Bird may be the challenge of our generation, it's got NOTHING on the 8-bit struggle-bus that is Mega Man.

Needless to say, the teens do not have an easy time because the famously impossible game is not at all intuitive. "This is really tricky," said one of the teens a second before his Mega Man explodes into a a cloud of flashing lights. "I hate this game. Everything kills you!" one of them concluded. By the end, they deemed games today a cinch compared to the challenge that '80s gamers faced.

So, yeah, we'll just be sticking with Candy Crush Soda Saga, thanks.

[h/t Yahoo! News]

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HBO Orders a Comedy Pilot Starring Sarah Silverman

by Megh Wright

sarah silvermanSarah Silverman might be HBO's next big comedy star. THR reports that the pay network has ordered an untitled pilot starring Silverman described as "a comedic look at a pathologically honest woman having a modern midlife crisis." Silverman will co-write the script and serve as a co-executive producer alongside Secret Diary of a Call Girl creator Lucy Prebble. Silverman previously developed a Lorne Michaels-produced pilot for HBO last year called People in New Jersey, which was ultimately not picked up by the network. Silverman hasn't starred in her own comedy series since The Sarah Silverman Program ended its run in 2010, so hopefully this pilot has better luck.

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Every Book A Surprise

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A Discussion About Free Speech

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10 Reasons It Sucks to Lose ‘Stephen Colbert’

As we prepare for the end of The Colbert Report, it is time to reflect on exactly what we are losing as Stephen Colbert retires his character and moves on to host The Late Show. Sure it's a great move for Colbert. Sure it promises to invigorate late-night comedy and give Colbert a chance to show us the full range of his skills as a performer. But let's be serious, there is a huge loss here and that loss is the brilliant character Colbert crafted.

The "Colbert" of The Colbert Report was one of the best vehicles for political satire of all time. In our view -- and we are writing not just as fans but also as authors of books on his show -- the Colbert persona has been one of the most important satirical figures in our nation's history. (For more on why this is true see Is Satire Saving Our Nation?, Colbert's America, and The Colbert Report A-Z.)

There is little question that "Colbert" played a major role in invigorating our democracy and advancing public debate. The point is that, regardless of what he will do on The Late Show, when Colbert puts his extraordinary character to rest we are losing a valuable feature of our nation's political satire. And it sucks.

Here are 10 reasons why:

1. He stood by (and up to) Bush.



It's never easy to stand up next to the leader of the free world and call him out on the administration's biggest mistakes, but Colbert did it. In the years following 9/11, when dissent was equated to hating America, Colbert made holding the government and the press accountable an act of patriotism. If he hadn't been in character, he simply would have never been able to pull the Bush roast off.

2. He expanded our vocabulary -- especially with the word "truthiness."

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Colbert created countless neologisms that have enriched our vocabulary. But truthiness still stands out as a great linguistic gift to our nation. Truthiness has been more than just Merriam-Webster's 2006 Word of the Year; it encapsulates the retreat from logic, truth, and facts that characterizes a lot of the rhetoric of both politicians and the media. When Colbert coined the word "truthiness", he established himself as a modern-day Jonathan Swift ready to call out social folly and give a name to it.




3. He taught us politics and made it fun.




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Audiences of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are regularly found to be better informed than viewers of cable news channels, especially Fox News. Colbert's long-running, award-winning Super PAC expose, however, stands out as an example of how much the Colbert Nation could learn from his show -- especially when he was the only one covering an important issue. He proved that satirical comedy can be a great tool for educating the public on serious political issues.




4. He made it okay to call Sarah Palin something terrible.




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The brilliance of this bit is that Colbert uses his character to get out of character. Again and again we hear right-wing pundits and politicians use twisted logic to say outrageous things -- racist, sexist, vicious things -- that they then attempt to justify through twisted logic. Colbert often found a way to use his character to just vent back at the ridiculous rhetoric of figures like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. The beauty is that he used his brilliant comedy to suggest that calling out Palin was actually doing her a favor.




5. He shamed Donald Trump and offered $1 million to let him dip his balls in his mouth.




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In a climate where neither media nor government want to risk drawing the ire of the multimillionaires who keep their coffers full, Colbert was never afraid to mock the wealthy and powerful. By countering Trump's offer of $5 million to see President Obama's college transcripts and birth certificate with an offer of $1 million if Trump dipped his balls in Colbert's mouth, allowing Colbert to expose Trump for the clown he is.




6. He called Mitt Romney a "serial killer."




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Colbert killed two birds with one stone with this Super PAC ad, which called Mitt Romney a serial killer since corporations are people and he "killed" corporations. In this ad, he poked fun at the increasingly extreme mudslinging in political advertising and he highlighted the true nature Romney's "business experience" at Bain Capital. He also highlighted one of the growing political ills plaguing our nation: the ongoing equation of corporations with people. In a record-breakingly expensive election full of dubious Super PAC ads, this one stands out as the only one we could laugh with.




7. He made tweeting matter.




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In an era where we constantly hear that social media is dumbing us down, making us anti-social and basically destroying civilization as we know it, Colbert showed the nation that we could use Twitter as a way to exercise political power and have fun while we're at it. Early efforts included having his audience change entries on Wikipedia, but here Colbert encouraged his audience to tweet "non-facts" about John Kyl, since clearly Kyl thought non-facts were not inflammatory. That first night there were over 1 million tweets with the Colbert-created hashtag #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement in one hour alone.




8. He reminded us that we have a House of Representatives.




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The House of Representatives tends to get substantially less media coverage than the White House and the Senate. But the House has a lot of power, as we have recently seen with the last government shutdown. So clearly we need to pay closer attention to the intelligence of the men and women that serve there. Colbert championed the cause by interviewing a range of representatives in his recurring segment, "Better Know a District." The interviews often quickly became viral, such as this one of Georgia congressman Lynn Westmoreland, who wanted to pass a law to have the ten commandments in courthouses, but couldn't name all ten himself.




9. He was the perfect foil for Jon Stewart.




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As we explain in Is Satire Saving Our Nation?, Colbert's character offered the perfect follow to Stewart's hard-hitting political satire. One of the most entertaining ways they intersected was in the early years with a segment "The Toss" that had the two comedians interact. But besides the fun of having them banter, there was a special synergy to their comedy. With Stewart doing straight satire and Colbert in character viewers got a powerful combination of comedy with a political punch. As Colbert once said in a Rolling Stone interview:

Jon deconstructs the news in a really brilliant comedic style. I take the sausage backwards, and I restuff the sausage. We deconstruct, but then we don't show anybody our deconstruction. We reconstruct -- we falsely construct the hypocrisy. And I embody the bullshit until hopefully you can smell it.

And boy could we smell it!

10. He kissed Jane Fonda.

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Okay, okay. So this is probably exactly the sort of Colbert we will see more of as he moves to The Late Show, but he did it on the Report first. And you have to admit that his combined discomfort and excitement with Fonda is just too adorable not to watch at least one more time.




Farewell, "Stephen Colbert." You will be missed!

The Best Christmas They Ever Had

Even on television, Jimmy had never experienced anything like what was going on in his family's living room.

"Keep your hands up," a policeman said to the jolly old fat man in the red suit who was standing by Jimmy's Christmas tree, a giant bag beside him.

"You're under arrest for burglary and trespassing. You have the right to remain silent."

The fat man said, "Ho, ho, ho."

"All these hoes, Ben," one of the officers said to the other. "Should we add a charge of prostitution?"

"No," the fat man said, "I"m Santa Claus."

Jimmy felt a tug on his shirt. His little sister Jenny had entered the room and was hiding behind him.'

"It's Santa," she whispered to her brother.

"Joe," Officer Ben said, "it sounds like the little girl knows this guy."

A call came in on Officer Ben's radio. "You have to be kidding!"

"What is it?" Officer Joe asked.

"You say he sees you when you're sleeping. He is a peeping tom. He knows when you've been bad or good." He looked at Jimmy. "And he's got eyes on your mom."

"Mom!"

"Wait a minute, Joe," Ben said. "The little girl said she knew this guy."

"He was at the mall," she said. "I sat on his lap and he told me he would give me what I wanted."

Joe threw Santa to the ground and handcuffed him. "You freak! She's just a little girl."

"No, ho ho," Santa said. "You don't understand. Millions of kids sit on my lap and tell me what they want. And if they've been good I come into their houses and leave something under their tree."

A third officer entered from the kitchen. "I've been talking to the parents," he said. "This guy stole some milk and cookies."

"From the looks of him, he's stolen a lot of milk and cookies."

"He was planning to make his getaway through the chimney. He left a team of reindeer on the roof and from the looks of it, the reindeer left something on the roof, too. We also found this computer. This guy not only sees them when they're sleeping and is a peeping tom, but here's how he knows if they're bad or good -- It's all on CD Rom."

"You have to let me go," Santa said. "I have all of these gifts in my bag and I have to deliver them to good little boys and girls all over the world."

Joe started leading him out of Jimmy's living room. "You're not going anywhere tonight, buddy."

"But that's Santa Claus," Jimmy and his sister said, almost in unison. Jimmy added, "You can't arrest Santa Claus."

"He won't bother you any more, kid. They don't take kindly to his type in prison."

Jimmy started to argue when Officer Ben said. "What are we going to do with this big bag of toys? We don't have room for that."

Officer Joe looked at Jimmy and Jenny. "Let's save ourselves some paperwork. Give the toys to these two kids. Now, kid, what were you going to say about this guy?"

Jimmy hesitated, then spoke. "Nothing, sir. He scares me."

Santa shook his head. "You're a bad little boy, Jimmy. And you know what happens to bad little boys?"

Joe said, "Get him out of here. Add intimidating a witness to the charges."

As the officers took the jolly fat man out of their home, Jimmy and Jenny began opening their gifts.

It was the best Christmas they ever had.

I Decided To Give It A Try

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The Christmas Tree Incident of 2014

This time of year is filled with lovely stories of families driving off into nature together in search of the perfect Christmas tree. One that's effortlessly trimmed and adorned with classy, yet meaningful ornaments. This, my friends, is not one of those stories.

No. In our family, driving a couple blocks to the local Catholic school to buy an extremely overpriced tree (for a good cause, of course) is about as much -- if not more than -- our family can handle.

There are a few challenges we consistently run into during this annual outing. One is getting our kids to wear appropriate clothing in the hopes that we might get a sentimental picture of the day we fought over a tree. Another is that my husband believes -- with absolute certainty -- that our living room is much bigger than it actually is.

Each year comes with a wild card challenge as well. There was the year my finger got stuck between the tree and the stand. And the year we carefully secured the tree onto the top of our new minivan only to discover that we'd tied the wonderfully convenient (well, 364 days a year, at least) sliding doors shut -- with the baby in the baby carrier still outside.

Yes, each year, our tree search is just the beginning of our family's holiday mishaps (assuming we haven't already massacred our gingerbread houses, that is).

So, this year, you can imagine our delight when we all agreed that the very first tree we saw was good enough "the one." I showed amazing restraint, and didn't snap a single photo during the three-minute process. And my husband showed amazing restraint, given the fact that this beauty was about half as wide -- and ful l-- as usual.

Due to the Finger Mangling Incident of 2009, we spent a few extra bucks and let the devoted volunteers at the lot nail a stand right onto the tree for us. And the rain held off long enough for us to get home -- with the tree still on top of the car, no less. Easy peezy peppermint squeezy.

But just then, the clouds gave way to the pressure. And so did I. In an effort to beat the downpour, I quickly tilted the tree so I could help lift from the top end. But rather than hearing thanks for my speed and agility, I heard a great big snap.

The wooden X that was nailed to our tree -- you know, the one with the sole job of making our tree stand upright -- was now a Y. And a Y (oh why?!) ...well, it doesn't do the job.

Not only did I stay unusually calm, I even chimed in with ingenious solutions like wood glue and questionable engineering maneuvers. And, if you ask me, I got bonus points for pretending not to notice that the tree was taller than our ceiling (though the three-foot scratch through the paint overhead was not nearly as subtle).


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(Nothing a little snip won't solve.)

While ignoring me, my husband -- who totally knew what he was doing, of course -- turned the broken piece of wood around and jammed it under the stand. It worked.


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A Christmas Miracle!

In celebration of the simple fix, he started stringing the 200,000 (give or take a few) mini colored lights -- which took him half as long as usual because the tree we grabbed fell in love with is long and lanky (as opposed to chubby and lush).

Come Sunday morning, our toddler woke up at the crack of dawn singing, "I'm so excited it's ornament day!"

But as we were stringing our garland, I noticed the tree was more wobbly than I was comfortable with. For a moment I envisioned it going down, and my husband's pre-marriage ornaments -- like the plastic Santa surfing on a remote control -- being the fortunate casualties of this unfortunate event. But then I remembered the beautiful glass ornament from Venice, and the ones with baby footprints from way back when we actually did that kind of stuff with our kids. You know, the irreplaceable stuff.

I could fix this -- I had to. For the good of our family Christmas, I'd sacrifice my hand weights to stabilize the tree. (I'm not saying I snapped the tree stand on purpose, but this was kind of working out in my favor after all -- no pun intended.)


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(Yes, we did reconsider the proximity of the electricity to the water, as well.)

But a little wiggle confirmed my wimpy weights weren't doing much for the tree either -- it was still just as jiggly as my arms.

My husband looked at me and said exactly what was on my mind -- proof that, not only is what we have true love, but what we were thinking was quite obviously The Right Thing to do.

"You know," he said, "we could saw the tree off of this stand and put it in our other stand."

At that point, the only thing more obvious than the fact that this was the best idea ever, was that we would call our friend to help out. After all, he owed us. You see, awhile back, my husband helped him rent a jackhammer and rip into their driveway -- an equally bright idea. (There may have been a pipe hit in the Jackhammer Incident of 2012, but that's not an important detail to this story.)

As we were preparing, we couldn't help but be super impressed with ourselves. "You realize that what we're attempting is pretty much the same as yanking a table cloth off a table set with the finest china." True. After all, we weren't going to waste time redoing the lights or garland, so we had to be delicate. "I mean, I'm not going to say that it's the same as changing the engine on a plane while in flight. That would be too dramatic. But..."

So, you can imagine our surprise when our friend arrived and told us it was the worst idea ever. (Really? Jackhammer?)

Of course we talked him into it -- which I now realize wasn't because we convinced him it was a good idea, but because he wanted to witness the bad idea in action.

My husband went to work with his handsaw. Until he hit a nail. No problem. He'd just start over, a couple inches higher.


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(Notice the direction he's getting from his helpful, loving wife.)

The good news was this gave him more time, not only to show off his manly strength, but to listen to my jokes while he was sweating his brains out. (Don't feel too bad for the guy, we gave him a break. You know, so our friend could take some photos of the madness.)

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(Should we redo our Christmas card? Bedhead at noon is a lot more believable than our boys in sport coats!)

Fast-forward to the surprisingly professional cut and the rather uneventful lift from stand to stand, and our mission was accomplished. We got the tree into the just-right spot in our living room, and quickly came to the realization that -- drum roll, please -- it was no less wobbly now than when it was in the broken stand.

We continued to make adjustments in the hopes that we could get it a bit more centered and stable -- unlike us.

By 1 p.m., our tree was finally standing tall (from two out of three angles at least), and ornament day commenced. And -- despite our toddler's approach of casually hooking 12 ornaments to one little twinkle light on the bottom branch -- the only person who broke an ornament this year was, you guessed it, me.

While this tree trimming wasn't what any of us envisioned, there was a whole lot of laughter and bonding (not to mention sweat). Maybe we'll make cutting our own tree a tradition after all. (Then again, maybe not.)

What's your family's favorite holiday mishap/miracle?

A version of this post originally appeared on Using Our Words.

Amy Heinz is a San Francisco Bay Area mom of three and the writer behind Using Our Words -- a parenting blog filled with lessons she's learned (usually the hard way), laughs she's enjoyed (mostly at her own expense), and tears she's shed (this mama's got heart). You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

‘The Chris Gethard Show’ Is Headed to Cable

by Megh Wright

gethardshow2Comedy Central might have passed on The Chris Gethard Show pilot earlier this year, but hope is never lost for the TCGS gang. During last night's show, Gethard announced that his longtime public access show has now found a home on cable, though the network has yet to be revealed. Here's a statement from Gethard on the news:

I'm super excited to say that it looks like TCGS has found a home on cable. Nothing is 100% set in stone just yet, but things are close enough to being finalized that people on all sides were down with letting me give a goodbye to our public access supporters in case we go into production in January and don't get to come back and have a farewell episode on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. On my end I can say that I am so beyond excited about our future home – I walked away from my meeting with them feeling like they were progressive, looking to innovate, and down to help us really rattle the chains and see what we can do with this thing we've built. They really feel like kindred spirits in so many ways, and if you know anything about our show you know that to say that about development executives is kind of a miracle, because our show is bonkers magoo. My plan is to make these people look like geniuses for taking a chance on us and to turn many heads. For a few years all I've been saying is that I can't give up on TCGS, because we've managed to do something that feels unique with tons of limitations. I always felt like if I gave up before finding someone who could give us a small budget and a real chance at doing it right, I'd kick myself forever. We finally get a chance to do it right, so now we just have to put up or shut up. We plan on bringing you the same balls out idiotic comedy with real honesty and emo heart and dedication to its fans we've always brought, just now we can do it with a set that doesn't have to fit in the trunk of my car and also I assume the lights won't turn off halfway through an episode and we won't have to deal with a situation where we show up and someone has stolen all the microphones. It's going to be so rad.

Also, I am someone who always works best while chasing an unrealistic dream. Now that it looks like we're going to accomplish the unrealistic dream of leaping from public access over to cable, I'm calling it now – TCGS will win an Emmy within two years. Quote me on that.

Let this be a lesson to aspiring comedy performers everywhere: Never, ever give up on your dreams, people! And look out Emmys, because TCGS is headed your way.

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Oh No, He’s Doing It Again

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The post Oh No, He’s Doing It Again appeared first on The Meta Picture.

This Is How Relationships Work

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Anderson Cooper Continues to be the Best at Putting Down Trolls

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Teddy Bear in a Sled

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Love how his expression at the end of the GIF, he is like, "Is this it?"

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I’m Already Sleepy

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Ask a Lesbian

The long-awaited Lesbian ID is now available to American citizens, undocumented residents, and loud if wealthy non-American visitors. Due to a recent glitch in our media outsourcing, there has been surprisingly little awareness of this useful new tool, perhaps overshadowed by the "municipal" IDs currently catching on across the nation.

To find out whether you are eligible to receive your Lesbian ID, consider the following questions:

Is lesbianism for everyone?

Yes! Many people think lesbianism is for a small, select group of people, largely women, but anyone can enjoy the benefits of this glamorous and richly rewarding lifestyle.

Benefits? Like what?

Increased job security,* improved treatment in housing* and enhanced salary and healthcare benefits.* Universal appreciation.**

*Void in states populated by Americans
**Only when applicable

2014-12-16-Eisenbach_Lesbianism14.jpg



How do I know if I'm a lesbian?

You are.

But I've been with the same man for--

Being involved with a male companion does not automatically invalidate your lesbian membership. Many women throughout history, and a handful of men, have had loving relationships with men. Though it may seem odd to some of you who are innocent in the ways of the world or who happen to be reading this, lesbianism has far more to do with your feelings for women than your experience with men. Strange but true.

But--

Trust me. You're a lesbian.

Do I have to use that word? It's so... heavy.

Some of our finest humorists have attempted to rehabilitate "lesbian" usage. Years ago Paul Rudnick, our modern-day Oscar Wilde, minus the jailing and premature death, was given to utter the sentence, "This cake is moist and lesbian." In this, as in so much of life, his example is to be followed.

What if I can't pull that off with a straight face?

The lightness of delivery with which you declare your beautiful, beautiful lifestyle-slash=love can go a long way toward helping others appreciate who and why you are. Of course, if you feel any shame or queasiness about sharing this special, cost-effective part of your nature, others will likely follow suit. Deploy your "lesbian" surrounded by playful adjectives, and its recipients will instantly grasp the proper mood with which to receive it. Try this example: "I'm as gay as the circus."

That didn't even use the word "lesbian"! Don't you have any more substantive questions?

Thanks for asking! Here's one: Which of the following is the definition of "dyke drama"?

A. Last Tuesday when my current wife met my former girlfriend and/or husband.

B. Confronting my boss after learning of a major disparity between my salary and that of the new stockboy.

C. A production of 12 Angry Men starring Wanda Sykes, Portia de Rossi, Samira Wiley, Rosie O'Donnell, k.d. lang, Meredith Baxter, Lily Tomlin and Jane Lynch ("Alternate Jurors 1-5": Anna Paquin, Megan Fox, Amber Heard, Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon). Special appearance by Lindsay Lohan as "Queenie."

Answers A-C are all correct, although C is a fantasy. Now that the planned Scott Rudin-produced Twelve Angry Mens -- in which Rudin hoped to cast Kevin Hooks, Hannibal Buress, Tyler Perry, Denzel Washington, Chris Rock and Angelina Jolie -- has been shelved due to offensiveness and not being funny, prospects for a female version of the tale have diminished even further than current reality permits.

The holidays are coming up.

Good point! Have yourself a merry little lesbian. Let your heart be light. Just so you know: Next year all your girlfriends will be out of sight.

Worried Or Relaxed

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The Putty Fighters From ‘Power Rangers’ May Be Putty, But They Also Have Feelings

If you grew up watching "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," there were probably moments when you thought, "Yeah the putties are attacking the Power Rangers, but maybe deep down they're good people." And then, before you could write the show to complain, it's already MORPHIN TIME! and you forget all about the lives of putties because giant robots are fighting.

But Winston Comedy is aiming the spotlight at Jeff, one particular member of the Putty Patrol who, only in the end, realizes the severity of the hand that the Saturday morning cartoon universe has dealt him.

Watch the sketch above and also check out WC's take on being a black sushi chef here.

Looks Like A Canadian Girl Band Album Cover

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Gifts Are Lessons

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‘Mothers Without Boundaries’ Takes On Those Overbearing Moms We All Know

You should have married that doctor.

It's tough when you have a mother who focuses on your faults rather than your successes. "Nobody's perfect, most of all you." Gee, thanks, mom. And yet, despite the fact that you often can't spend twenty minutes in the same room as her without being picked apart, you love her forever.

Comedian Jena Friedman and friends give us their take on this motherly phenomenon in this sketch from their Doctors Without Borders benefit show in NYC last month.

Watch the fake PSA above (Warning: some NSFW language) and stay strong when visiting home this holiday season.

He Just Keeps On Getting Better

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He Couldn’t Leave Him Hanging

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Hope-Less: How Different Would Standup Be Without Bob Hope?

by Lary Wallace

bobhopeThe truth is, Bob Hope actually dug Lenny Bruce, he really did — even considered him “brilliant,” according to Richard Zoglin in his new biography Hope: Entertainer of the Century. Zoglin tells the story of Hope dropping in on a Florida nightclub to check out Bruce’s act. “Bruce introduced Hope in the audience and after the show,” writes Zoglin, “ran into the parking lot to flag him down, asking Hope if he would give Bruce a guest spot on one of his TV shows. Hope laughed him off: ‘Lenny, you’re for educational TV.’”

Whether there was more sharpness or self-deprecation in Hope’s remark, it’s a tender moment between two comedians who couldn’t possibly have been more different. In Hope, however, Zoglin is determined to make the case that there’s less difference than we perceive between Bob Hope and those comedians of Bruce’s generation and later — and, what’s more, that without Bob Hope, none of those comedians would have been possible.

Zoglin claims, very bluntly, that “Hope was the first to combine topical subject matter with the rapid-fire gag rhythms of the vaudeville quipster. His monologues became the template for Johnny Carson and nearly every late-night TV host who followed him, and the foundation stone for all standup comics, even those who rebelled against him.”

That’s a strong claim, and it’s one that Zoglin grounds firmly in history. Hope’s radio manager, Jimmy Saphier, has said that in the 1930s he “felt it was a shame the home listeners weren’t getting the best of him. Radio simply wasn’t using his talents properly. I knew this, and I sensed Bob knew it but didn’t yet know how to overcome it. His work with [his radio foils] was funny, but his strength seemed to me and also to him — eventually — to be centered in what he did best, the monologue.”

Before long, Hope was talking up the monologue in this press, saying things like, “The monologue is now showing signs of being a main comedy trend. I haven’t discarded dialogue and sketches, and I don’t expect to. But I intend giving short monologues prominent spots on all my programs.” These would, Zoglin writes, “be monologues of a new kind — filled not with generic vaudeville-style gags, but with fresh jokes, drawn from the news and from his own real-life experiences.” Hope told another news reporter that “the monologue in modern dress, clever and smart, is due for a comeback.”

It was the monologue in modern dress, but Hope knew enough not to deny that Will Rogers had cut the fabric. Will Rogers took political commentary and, in Hope’s words, “cloaked it with novelty, gave it vitality.” “Hope was Rogers’ logical heir,” writes Zoglin. “He adopted the humorist’s everyman approach and topical subject matter…, but added speed and moxie and a vaudeville gagster’s instinct for the laugh line. In doing so, he invented a new kind of monologue — the seeds of modern standup comedy.”

* * *

Anytime someone claims that Bob Hope planted the seeds of modern comedy, it begs the question of just how important to modern comedy one considers personal expression. Hope notoriously hired a whole staff of writers, and, beyond that, was one of the very first comedians to ever use cue cards. This last is something Hope took up after transitioning from radio to television, whereupon he couldn’t very well be seen holding a script while performing. Hope’s cue-card guy was the Ur-Cue Card Guy, one Barney McNulty, late of the Army Air Corps, where he’d learned to transcribe Morse code in letters large but neat. From there, he took his talents to Ed Wynn’s TV show in 1949, and, four years later, to Hope. He would remain a “loyal member of the entourage,” according to Zoglin, and “often a whipping boy,” for some forty years afterward.

Hope called his 1954 memoir Have Tux, Will Travel, where a different kind of comedian might have gone with Have Mic, or even, in some extreme cases, Have Pen. But Hope went with Have Tux. That’s just the kind of comedian he was. After all, he had people to hold the pens for him – he didn’t handle those very much more than he handled the cue cards. When he was working in radio, Zoglin claims, Hope hired more writers than anyone else working in the medium.

Later on, he’d use them for his most personal canvases, for the longform performances he took on the road throughout America and Europe and wherever U.S. soldiers were fighting. This wasn’t just how he put product on the air nightly. This is how he communicated his vision, across all formats and mediums.

But he really did care about the monologue, as an art-form, and applied the full extent of his attentions and instincts to making it right. Larry Gelbart, who worked as a writer for Hope before creating M*A*S*H, has said that Hope “was terrific with us. He was a great editor. He knew what he should do and knew what he shouldn’t do. He cared about the rest of the show, but nothing received the personal attention and that kind of involvement that the monologue did.”

He wasn’t shy about his use of writers. In fact, he was, writes Zoglin, the first comedian to openly acknowledge them in his act, with his so-called “savers,” those self-deprecatory ad libs he would toss out whenever a joke bombed. They were the onstage equivalent of all that fourth-wall-breaking he would do with Bing Crosby in the Road pictures. “I don’t think Hope invented savers,” Zoglin tells me when I ask him about it by e-mail, “though he certainly popularized them.”

And, of course, the savers weren’t always as spontaneous as they were meant to appear. Sometimes they were written by the very writers they often poked fun at. Nevertheless, writes Zoglin, “Hope could improvise when he had to; his reactions were quick and his ability to roll with the punches impressive.”

Zoglin is willing to acknowledge that, “In truth, Hope got away with plenty of old jokes – tired, knee-jerk gags about Gleason’s weight and Benny’s cheapness and Crosby's many kids – and his material was often second class.” But he did a volume business, did Hope, and his best work managed to entertain even as it innovated. And, anyway, it’s not always about the joke as it’s written; it’s about the delivery, too. Hope didn’t always say funny things, they say; but he always said things funny. It was as an interpreter that he excelled.

* * *

Mort Saul, the most topical monologuist of the generation or two following Hope’s, identified a different father to his own sensibility. He liked to cite Henry Morgan. When I ask Zoglin about the importance of Henry Morgan to topical monologists, he acknowledges that this “near-forgotten figure” is “cited by many as an influence” in making standup “more personal, acerbic, socially relevant and politically pointed….But Hope, I maintain, still paved the way for all of these guys a decade earlier, by basically inventing the topical monologue.”

What Hope did for them, in other words, is very similar to what Will Rogers had done for Hope. Although Rogers was already doing material as topical as that afternoon’s paper, the “folksy, slow-paced delivery” was something in desperate need of upgrading, or at least modernizing. That’s what Hope gave it, by accelerating and sharpening it with the pacing and punchlining picked up in vaudeville. Hope’s retooling of Rogers was retooled yet again by the comedians of Saul’s era – those who came to prominence in the 1950s – by developing routines that were much more thoughtful and discursive, not to mention irreverent and iconoclastic.

If Hope had kept his iconoclasm — or, rather, if he had modified it with time to keep pace with the standard for what passed as iconoclasm — he’d be much better remembered today. Instead, he kept it at the cruising speed he’d set in the very beginning. The man who in 1947 had been deemed the most tasteless comedian on the air by a poll of Christian college students was, by the 1960s, someone so anodyne and establishment-friendly that he golfed with presidents, and performed ideologically neutral in front of kings and queens and U.S. combat troops.

On those rare occasions when Hope tried to tell jokes that had about them at least the flavor of controversy or indecorousness, he quickly acceded to censorship. When NBC aired one of his USO specials from Vietnam, they removed jokes such as: ““I hear you go in for gardening. The commanding officer says you all grow your own grass.” The press complained, but Bob Hope did not – not publicly, anyway.

Beyond that, there was always a distance to Hope, a deliberate repelling of any who would approach the vicinity of his soul’s secrets, whatever they may be. A womanizer of notorious appetites even by Hollywood standards, Hope also developed, in childhood (according to Zoglin), defenses “for protecting himself from harsh realities: a thick skin, an ability to mask his feelings, and a relentlessly positive, can-do attitude in the face of precarious times.” Michael Herr, who had plenty of opportunity to observe Hope up close when reporting Dispatches in Vietnam, would later write, “Famous beyond famous, the ultimate show business machine, when you met him you could look and stare and still not really see him. Your real life was just another medium that he was starring in.”

* * *

What ultimately did more damage to Hope’s reputation than anything else wasn’t the writing staff, the cheap jokes, the respectability, or the distance. It was the laziness – the complacency. This complacency didn’t prominently appear until the age at which such a thing becomes excusable, or at least understandable, but there it appeared all the same. And it stayed for many years afterward, because Hope himself stayed. It got to a point, as early as the 1970s, where even the savers were more than Hope was willing to go through with. “His delivery…was growing more rigid and imperial,” writes Zoglin: “the joke, the stare, the laugh, the next setup. No more ‘savers’ when he stumbled on a line, or when a joke fell flat – or much acknowledgement of the audience at all.”

“Energy,” Zoglin tells me, “is really important: being constantly attuned to the audience, quick on your feet, able to roll with the punches. I think energy is one thing that Hope lost as he grew older. In the early years he was a focused and fully engaged performer. By the later years he was just reading the cue cards and walking through his performances.”

When I raise with Zoglin an issue raised near the top of this essay — just how important is personal expression in a comedian, particularly a standup? — his answer is intelligent and nuanced and formidable: “It's certainly important today, but it wasn't always. There have been great comedians who simply did jokes — Rodney Dangerfield, or Henny Youngman — without revealing anything of themselves. One of Hope's innovations was to make his comedy monologues more personal — joking about his own experiences, travels, golf game, Hollywood friends — than other comedians of that era. To be sure, it was personal only in a superficial way, and it was surpassed by the far more personal comics who came later. But it was new when Hope began doing it.”

Finally, I ask him what he would say to the present-day standup with nothing but contempt for what Bob Hope did.

“I would say, read my book and try to put yourself in Bob Hope's shoes when he was first trying to make it in vaudeville and radio. His topical jokes were a major advance on the vaudeville-style comedy around him, and you have to respect how much of a pioneer he was. He may look old-fashioned today, but it's a sign of how quickly the innovator can become old hat.”

Lary Wallace is an eccentric-at-large and the features editor of Bangkok Post: The Magazine.

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The Old “Wrong Number Turned Insult”

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FBI, CIA, KGB

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Way Better Than Facebook

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Fish Uses Oyster Shells as Speakers

speakers,oceanography,cloyster,science,shells,fish,funny A clever fish has figured out that if it produces sounds in an oyster shell, the noises will carry over long distances, according to new research. The study, published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, is just the latest to show that fish are far from being silent. Many can produce sounds by vibrating their swimbladders and, like a fishy form of Morse Code, they can create different meanings based on the sounds.

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No One Knows You’re Looking if You Don’t Put Yourself Out There

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The Camera Loves You

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6 Things You’re Missing By Not Seeing ‘The Interview’

Audiences won't get to see "The Interview" on Christmas Day -- and maybe even ever. According to a spokesperson for Sony Pictures, the studio has "no further release plans" for the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy, making even on-demand or Blu-ray releases unlikely. Which is a shame for a number of reasons, including the fact that "The Interview" is really quite funny. Ahead, six things you're missing by not seeing "The Interview."

Breakout performances from Randall Park and Diana Bang

the interview us government

It may star Seth Rogen and James Franco, but "The Interview" puts actors Randall Park and Diana Bang at the forefront. Both deliver breakout performances that should have launched them to stardom. As Kim Jong Un, Park recalls Christoph Waltz in "Inglourious Basterds" mixed with that little kid from the "It's A Good Life" episode of "The Twilight Zone." Bang plays Kim's right-hand to hilarious effect, and her chemistry with Rogen is palpable. She's one of the best foils he's ever had onscreen, right next to Rose Byrne in "Neighbors" (and Jay Baruchel in "This Is The End").

James Franco's most James Franco performance

the interview

What is the most James Franco? Is it Alien in "Spring Breakers"? Is it his Instagram account? Is it when he starred as "James Franco" in "This Is The End"? All good options, but maybe the most Franco is Dave Skylark. It's possible Franco has never had more fun onscreen as Skylark, a preening moron who thinks he's the greatest journalist ever. There's a famous line in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance": When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. Skylark is his own legend, and Franco crushes his megalomaniacal hubris.

A lot of "Lord of the Rings" references

frodo baggins

James Franco calls Seth Rogen his Samwise. It's adorable.

Further indication that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are two of our best comedy filmmakers

seth rogen evan goldberg

Let's leave praise of Rogen and Goldberg as directors to Time Out New York critic David Ehrlich:

It isn’t just the most sophisticated and beautifully shot of Rogen’s star vehicles, it’s also the most giddily puerile. As funny as Neighbors and as demented as This Is the End, The Interview confirms Rogen as the most ambitious mainstream comedian in Hollywood. In the unlikely event that it proves to be Sony’s downfall, at least they’ll go out with a bang.

A final montage that includes "Wind of Change"



This music cue in "The Interview" would make Paul Thomas Anderson proud.

The ending, and simply excellent use of Katy Perry



Much has been made about the ending of "The Interview," which -- spoiler alert -- uses a slowed-down version of Katy Perry's "Firework" as accompaniment to Kim being killed by Skylark. But an earlier scene, when Skylark and Kim are riding in a tank (!) while the actual version of "Firework" plays, is a true 2014 highlight. (James Franco for the Michael Dukakis bio?) Later, during the interview to which the title refers, Skylark uses Perry's lyrics to get Kim to break down and cry. Shoot across the sky-y-y, "The Interview," wherever you are. You've earned it.

"The Interview" was supposed to come out on Dec. 25. It's not now.

Twelve Guys Trying To Score

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12 Gifts For Dad, The Most Impossible Person On Your Holiday Shopping List

Here's something you didn't know: The holidays are here, and that means finding gifts for everyone on your list. Mom, siblings, significant other and the cousin's husband's child from a previous marriage whom you drew in the extended family's Secret Santa exchange. And dear old Dad.

According to a study, no one likes shopping for dads. Aww. That's because it's impossible, though. We love our fathers, of course, but what do you get the man who probably wants nothing but peace and quiet?

We've got 12 awesome gifts that science guarantees* he'll love this holiday season!



Something techy: Hands-free iPad stand
$84.99

ipad thing

Invented by NASA so that astronauts might be able to stay up-to-date on RHOA while exploring the last frontier, this platinum-hued gooseneck stand lets you use your iPad without the burden of holding your iPad. This has actually been our dream since we were seven years old lying awake in bed envisioning a TV suspended from the ceiling. And everyone knows how Dad loves a good lounge sesh. Park this stand right next to his recliner in the den and he can doze off under his favorite Clint Eastwood performance.



Something for naps: Poop emoji pillow
$10.98

poop emoji pillow

Nothing shows Dad how much you respect both his tech savvy and refined bathroom humor like this pillow, shaped like a smiling turd. "Extremely soft and comfortable," according to the listing, this, the most enigmatic of all the emojis, will make an excellent nap companion for literally any father on the planet.



Something outdoorsy: Car-crushing tank experience
$499

tank crushing car

"Why just drive a tank when you can crush cars with one?" the website of Tank Town USA wonders. If we only had a dollar for every time we heard that. Founded as a treatment center for men suffering from testosterone poisoning, Tank Town is located on the side of a freeway, billing itself as the number one thing to do in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Here, Dad can live out his recurring dream of smashing up a rusted out '92 Ford Taurus. A similar establishment near Minneapolis will let you tank-smash cars, too.



Something to drink: Moonshine
Varies

moonshine

Legal moonshine (surprisingly not an oxymoron) has been on the up and up for a few years now. Invented by John D. Rockefeller during one particularly constructive night of sleepwalking, moonshine once enjoyed intense popularity among the fashionable elite. But these days, everyone can try some. This one is "almost vanilla-y" and "not too hot," according to people in our office.



Something for golf: Floating golf hole
$114-$589

golf green

Here's the perfect thing for a dad who loves golf! Created by a tax-evading multi-millionaire on the yacht where he's spent 10 years living in international waters, this floating piece of golf course comes in five different sizes. Combine them for a crazy aquatic golf adventure that will delight swimmers with high-velocity plastic balls.



Something for work: Label maker
$16.18

label maker

Fun fact: If you gift your father a label maker, something like this will happen. Then you can take pictures and post them to the Internet, where one day they may appear on BuzzFeed.

Honestly, we’re not sure why anyone might actually need a label maker aside from the express purpose of recreating a kindergarten classroom at home. You really need to label some drawers with their contents? How about you just, you know, open the drawer and find out?



Something for bed: Unicorn onesie
$62.30

unicorn onesiee

PROVEN SUCCESSFUL DAD GIFT, where n=1. Designed for children but enjoyed by all, onesies are always a great gift because no one has ever bought one for themselves in the history of time. Onesies solve all the problems a person faces when trying to decide which oversized shirt to pair with which pair of sweatpants. They are universally adored.



Something he actually asked for



It’s just a suggestion. Maybe you don’t think gardening gloves make for an exciting gift, but maybe Dad had the same thoughts about the platform sneakers you wanted last year. May-be.



Something Mom wouldn't approve: Pizza cone maker
$21.99

pizza cone

Dads are nothing if not trendy, and there’s nothing hotter right now than snackwave. Classic junk foods are in. Eat them in public; eat them with pride! If you laugh at all his jokes, there's a good chance Dad will whip up a horribly caloric abomination of bastardized Italian food for you, too. Biting into the molten cheese will definitely scald a layer of skin off the mouth of anyone brave and foolish enough to eat one of these, but here is a pizza-lover's Everest.

Pro tip: Make colossal ice cream cones for dessert!



Something fun: Remote-controlled flying shark
$28.30

flying shark

For those who can't afford a fancy new remote-controlled helicopter drone this holiday season, there is this. It allows Dad to recreate Sharknado in the living room and terrify the dog at the same time. With a bit of helium and AAA batteries (always remember the batteries!) the shark can be re-inflated again and again, until the dog decides the house isn't big enough for two razor-toothed beasts.



Something for puttering: Bear feet slippers

How Fake Are Peacocks?

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Jon Stewart Hits Back After Sean Hannity Refers To Jay Z As A ‘Crack Dealer’

To millions, Jay Z is an American success story -- a wildly popular artist and a self-made businessman from humble roots. But to Sean Hannity, Jay Z is just a "former crack dealer.”

"Fuck, man," Jon Stewart said on "The Daily Show" Wednesday night, after playing a clip of Hannity's comments. "I don't even know what to do here."

But if Jay Z is just a "former crack dealer" to Fox News, then turnabout is fair play. "The Daily Show" correspondent Jessica Williams joined Stewart to give new titles to some of the network's favorite talking heads, including Ted Nugent, G. Gordon Liddy and Mark Fuhrman, based on "the worst thing they've ever done."

Rush Limbaugh, for example, is no longer a "radio talk show host"; he's a "prescription drug addict."

Two can play at this game.

‘Night At The Museum 3′ – Cast Interview w/ Andre Hyland

'Night At The Museum 3' – Cast Interview w/ Andre Hyland

'Night At The Museum 3' – Cast Interv... 4:29 The cast of 'Night at the Museum 3' sits down with Hollywood insider Andre Hyland for an in-depth discussion about why Brittany Spears inspires Mr. Stiller, the fear of a day at the museum, and Andre collects some autographs along the way. Interview includes; Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Rebel Wilson and Dan Stevens. Written & Edited by Andre Hyland Submitted by: bLoNd cHiLi Regular Keywords: Ben Stiller Owen Wilson Rebel Wilson Ricky Gervais Shawn Levy Dan Stevens Night at the museum 3 Andre Hyland interview cast Views: 905

Wrestling With Squirrels

There have been times in my life when I had to take a stand for what was right, even when sitting there and taking the unfairness would have been easier. Even when it meant getting physical.

Even when there was a chance of getting rabies.

Let me explain...

It was my senior year in college, and I was frantically studying for a final exam at the College of Fine Arts cafeteria. That studying stuff was hard work, so I decided to treat myself to a delicious looking, albeit ridiculously expensive, chocolate chocolate-chunk cookie to go along with the lunch I brought from home.

I was an extremely poor college student, and forking out $2.50 for a cookie was something akin to a down payment for a home. But I considered it a reward for all of my hard work and thought that the accompanying sugar high would propel me towards academic greatness as I took my exam in an hour.

Having scored a prime seat on the nearby lawn, I plopped down to eat my sandwich, and as I sat there and nibbled my turkey-on-wheat, I heard some rustling beside me.

I turned around just in time to catch a sneaky squirrel snatching up my gourmet goodie and dragging it away, the weight of the cookie slowing him down to a snail's pace.

The cookie I had been lovingly anticipating eating. The cookie that meant I would be dining on ramen noodles for dinner. The cookie that was still wrapped in cellophane.

And at that moment, I snapped.

Vermin was taking off with my $2.50 cookie. That squirrel didn't care how much that cookie cost. He was just looking at sugary goodness. Free sugary goodness. And I wasn't about to sit there and let this rodent injustice happen to me.

So I jumped up and chased that squirrel down.

That's right. I charged after that teeny pest in an attempt to retrieve my treat, looking like a lunatic as I zigged and zagged all over the lawn.

I finally caught up to the crook, then pried the cookie from the squirrel's fangs in a manner that would almost make me consider a career in wrestling. Seriously? Did this squirrel have pit bull lineage?

Having taken back what was rightfully mine, I proudly walked back to my spot, feeling accomplished and ready to take on the world. Take that, Squirrel! No one messes with a woman and her chocolate!

I was seated for all of three seconds when that sucker scurried over to me and tried to recoup his loss. At first, he tried begging. I tried to verbally ration with him.

It was the most insane argument I've ever had in my life.

When I didn't give in, he lunged for me.  One minute he was sitting on his haunches, pleading for me to share, and the next, he was in my lap. I held the cookie high above my head, out his of reach, and before I knew it, the squirrel scrambled up my torso and lurched for the cookie.

I'm going to pause for a sec and let that image sink in.

He used.

My body.

As a freaking tree.

But I held strong. I wasn't about to let this flea-ridden dirt bag make off with my cookie, and after swatting him repeatedly with my nearby blue book, the squirrel got the hint and darted away.

Feeling content, I started to unwrap my prize when I realized something.

I was left with a cookie that a squirrel had sunk its teeth in to.

There was no way in hell I could eat that tainted cookie. Unless I wanted to cap off my hard won tug-of-war with a trip to the health center.

Still, winning that battle was a defining moment in my undergraduate career.  It showed me that I could be persistent.  It showed me that I could stand up for myself. It showed me that I have some serious issues with sweets.

And just to be sure I taught that squirrel a lesson, instead of throwing it away, I took that cookie with me.

Polite Shelter Pets At Christmas Dinner May Put Your Table Manners To Shame

It took a little wrangling to make it look like these 13 dogs -- and one patient cat -- have better etiquette than any of your human family members.

High-end pet food company Freshpet has released a holiday promo video featuring a group of Utah rescue animals -- some of which were up for adoption at the time of filming -- dressed up like people dining on a feast of Freshpet meals. The entertaining footage shows just how awesome shelter pets are -- it's even helping some of them find permanent homes!

It was "really hard to get the animals to not eat the food right away," says Alyne Tamir Manwaring, a volunteer with the Humane Society of Utah who helped finagle the pets into their excellent performances. "Some of the animals had more than their fair share [of the feast] by the end of the night."

But it was all worth it. Since the video was made, two of the four Humane Society of Utah animal "actors" have been adopted. As of Wednesday evening, only Lion the cat and this adorable doggie named Bear (below) still need a home, according to HSU spokesperson Guinnevere Shuster.

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Post by The Humane Society of Utah.



Shuster told The Huffington Post that the HSU shelter saw an uptick in visitors after Freshpet released its video on Dec. 15. She also said 40 of the shelter's animals have been adopted in that time. The video, she added, gave people a look at how well-behaved and adorable shelter's animals are.

"The fact that they could go from a kennel in the shelter to [a] set with lots of distractions and people they have never met before and perform as well as they did just shows how amazing shelter dogs can be," she said.

Freshpet's offer to pay the adoption fees of the animals from the video probably helped, too. "We will also be giving their new families a supply of Freshpet food to get them started," the company's said.

Want to get a more realistic sense of how Bear and Lion might perform at your holiday meals? Check out their mealtime antics in Freshpet's behind-the-scenes video, which doesn't make us love these guys any less at all:



Find out more about the Humane Society of Utah's adoptable animals on the group's Facebook page. And get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com with photos of your dogs and cats eating Christmas dinner, or, you know, other animal stories.

Two Women Hilariously Remind Us What Feminists Really Want For Christmas

We just found the song of the holiday season -- and it's got the perfect mix of Christmas cheer and patriarchy-smashing.

The Doubleclicks, described as a "nerd-pop-folk sister duo from Portland, Oregon" on their YouTube page, wrote "Sexist Bullshit (Christmas Song)" to remind everyone what feminists really want this holiday season.

These two feminists don't want iPads, jet packs or even hover boards, as The Doubleclicks croon in the song, they want something so much more: "The ability to make sexist assholes disappear, is all I want for Christmas -- it's all I want this year!" If we could get the iPads, jet packs and a magic weapon to launch the demise of the patriarchy, that would be ideal. (That's what the eight nights of Hanukkah are for, right?)

Sing on ladies! We'll be humming this tune all the way into the New Year.

H/T Mic

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Jessica Williams Gives Fox News Contributors the Jay-Z Treatment on ‘Daily Show’

by Megh Wright

Correspondent Jessica Williams appeared on The Daily Show last night to set the record straight after Sean Hannity referred to Jay-Z as a "former crack dealer" on Fox News, prompting her to turn the tables on the "news" network that's constantly telling the black community to "stay out of trouble" and "pull up their pants" by labeling them the same way they label Jay-Z — through the worst thing they've ever done. Turns out crack dealing isn't so awful when compared with the rap sheets of some of Fox News' finest.

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Cyber Cat Problems

funny-cat-using-mini-computer-Apple

The post Cyber Cat Problems appeared first on The Meta Picture.

Sony’s Act of Cowardice That Betrays 2000 Years

Kim Jong-Un 1 - Sony Pictures 0.

There's a weapon uniquely fatal to despots and terrorists. That weapon is comedy, and Sony Pictures just cancelled it.

Sony yielded to crackpot internet-threats and cancelled the Christmas Day release of their new comedy film The Interview. Whilst North Korea hasn't publicly accepted responsibility for those threats, it doesn't take a genius-level IQ to spot that the single biggest beneficiary from this cancellation is dictator Kim Jong Un.

Comedy calls-out the corrupt. If you attack them with sanctions then they'll use those sanctions to rally the masses -- just look at Russia's Putin who is enjoying sky-high popularity despite a plunging economy. Attack them with laughter however, and the despotic have nowhere to hide.

It all started with the comedies of Aristophanes. 2,500 years ago, he took to the stage and mocked the all-powerful elites of ancient Athens. A brave man.

Jump forward about 1,500 years to the courts of the medieval European kings and there would be a guy wandering around in silly clothes -- the king's fool. The fool's purpose was not to make the king laugh, but to use comedy to point out the king's errors and the king's foolishnesses, hence the name, "king's fool." A most dangerous job indeed, that required not a fool, but a man of intelligence -- a brave man.

2014-12-18-Matejko_StaczykJester.jpg
Image credit: Matejko Stanczyk - "The Jester"


Leap forward another half millennia and we have comedians like Bassem Youssef, known as the Egyptian Jon Stewart. Youssef's TV comedy show became the only independent voice to oppose a military government not known for it's tolerance of dissent. A brave man.

Here in America we have Jeff Dunham and his fabulous Achmed the Dead Terrorist -- he of Jingle Bombs. Dunham and Achmed are the living proof that is hard to be in fear of something when we are laughing at it. Comedians like Dunham demonstrate why terrorists such as ISIL and depots such as Kim Jong UN have learnt to fear laughter above all other weapons.



And that's why a cowardly Sony Pictures just betrayed not only its audience, but the entire tradition of comedy, and all those brave men and women who for 2,500 years have used comedy to speak truth to tyranny.

Terrorists and Despots 1 - Humanity 0


Peter Paskale is a communications coach and analyst who writes The Presenters' Blog at speak2all.wordpress.com

Anna Kendrick Talks To Jon Stewart About ‘Into The Woods,’ Tries Not To Ruin Fairy Tales For His Daughter

Anna Kendrick Talks To Jon Stewart About 'Into The Woods,' Tries Not To Ruin Fairy Tales For His Daughter

Anna Kendrick Talks To Jon Stewart Ab... Anna Kendrick comes on The Daily Show to talk about her new movie Into the Woods. Submitted by: Jenny Nelson Regular Keywords: Anna Kendrick Into The Woods Jon Stewart The Daily Show Anna Kendrick The Daily Show Into The Woods Anna Kendrick Anna Kendrick singing Anna Kendrick fairy tales Jon Stewart singing late night clips late night highlights TDS Daily Show The Daily Show Anna Kendrick late night TV Into The Woods Jon Stewart Views: 185

Beware Of Mayonnaise Bandits

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Never Burn Shrek

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“Turn Left at the Next Sphincter in 200 Feet…”

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Just Let Me Convince You!

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‘Conan’ Prop Master Bill Tull Is Back with Some Cheap Holiday Tips

by Megh Wright

If you're out of money, time, or creativity for holiday ideas, don't worry: Conan's no-nonsense prop master Bill Tull returned last night with a brand new collection of frugal tips that are guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit without breaking the bank.

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Hanging Up The Phone

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The post Hanging Up The Phone appeared first on The Meta Picture.

The Family Dynamic for Gamers is Going to Change

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Clever Wedding Guestbook

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Reading, PA’s ‘Ugly’ Charlie Brown-Themed Christmas Tree Has More Holiday Spirit Than Most

READING, Pa. (AP) — Reading's official Christmas tree has brought the city plenty of grief. Good grief.

When the 50-foot Norway spruce went up last month, it drew immediate comparisons to the scraggly sapling in "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Its giant bare spots and asymmetrical branches were no one's idea of Christmas tree perfection — especially in Pennsylvania, one of the nation's largest producers. Some residents and city officials called it an embarrassment and demanded it be replaced with a more suitable specimen.

reading christmas tree Instead, Reading decided to embrace the Charlie Brown theme.

Workers wrapped a blue blanket around its base — a la Linus — and adorned it with a single red ball. The city announced a worldwide photo and essay contest, with winners to receive copies of the book version of the beloved TV special. And on Saturday, the public is invited to give the tree a makeover, just like the "Peanuts" gang surprised Charlie Brown by turning his puny pine into a trimmed, twinkling tannenbaum.

Turns out Reading's tree wasn't bad at all, really. It just needed a little love.

"Christmas is so commercialized that we tend to forget what Christmases used to be like," said Mayor Vaughn Spencer, channeling good ol' Charlie Brown himself. "Sometimes we have to keep things in perspective, and I think that's the lesson here."

Amy Johnson, the daughter of the late "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz, said her father would be tickled that "A Charlie Brown Christmas" has made a real-world impact nearly a half-century after its release.

"All he ever wanted to do with his strip was make people happy," she said. "And if he could bring the town together, that would make him very happy."

As generations of fans know, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" has the lovable loser picking a tree for the Christmas play. After he rescues a tiny sapling that's losing its needles, the other kids scold him for his ineptitude and laugh derisively at the tree. Then Linus tells the biblical story of Jesus' birth, and the gang has a change of heart.

In Reading, the story doesn't have such a tidy ending.

Several pedestrians insulted the tree as ugly and unworthy as they walked past on a recent day, the lone red ball swaying in a stiff breeze.

One lifelong resident, Emma Vega, called it an unwelcome reminder of Reading's troubles. Once a mighty manufacturing hub, the city of 88,000 is among the nation's neediest, with nearly 40 percent of its residents living in poverty.

"Do we really need a tree as our mascot?" said Vega, 48, unemployed and looking for work. "Everyone knows Reading's poor. It looks even more poor with that tree."

For others, the tree offers up several timely messages: Nothing and no one are perfect. Be grateful for what you have. Make the most of what you've been given.

Workers had intended to get a Christmas tree from a farm in neighboring Schuylkill County, but the ground was sopping wet when they went to pick it up, and the owner turned them away. So they went to a city ballpark and, behind home plate, found the tree that would soon garner international media attention.

City Councilman Jeff Waltman said the conifer symbolizes Reading itself — full of potential and ready for transformation.

"This tree carries its own little spirit," he said. "It has its own little voice now."

You Want A “Best Of 2014″ List? Here’s A Fucking Buttload Of “Best Of 2014″ Lists, Assholes

You Want A Best Of 2014 List? Here's A Fucking Buttload Of Best Of 2014 Lists, Assholes

You Want A "Best Of 2014" List? Here'... You Want a "Best Of" LIst? Here's A Fucking Buttload Of "Best Of" Lists, Assholes Submitted by: benwietmarschen Regular Keywords: Best of 2014 Best Songs of 2014 Best Books of 2014 Best Movies of 2014 Best Films of 2014 Bust Music of 2014 Best TV of 2014 Best television of 2014 Best shows of 2014 Best TV Shows of 2014 Best 2014 Jimmy eat World Best of Lists Lists Best of Best of the year best of best 2014 list lists list best of list all of the best of lists books movies tv shows songs Views: 294

Your Favorite Hue?

funny-test-definition-hue-Jackman

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Stephen Colbert Hosts a ‘Colbert Report’ Memorabilia Yard Sale

by Megh Wright

Last night was the second-to-last episode of The Colbert Report, so Stephen decided to get rid of nine years' worth of Colbert Report memorabilia crowding up the offices by putting on his very own yard sale. You know the end is near when even Michael Stipe is for sale for 25 cents.

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Forgotten Mega Evolutions

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Tagged: Pok

Taking Your Girl to the Winter Dance Can Be Dangerous

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A Reasonable Excuse

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Thanks, Doggy, I Can’t Reach That Part!

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Infographic: Avoiding Family Conflict During The Holiday Season

The holidays are supposed to be a festive time, but when families gather together, arguments and negativity often threaten to spoil the occasion.

May You MOBA With the Angels

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Sudden Onset Amnesia?

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Take Your Tiny Hairy Faces Out Of Here

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12 Times Online Dating Made Us Question Humanity In 2014

Technology has made it easier than ever to be your truly worst self in the wild game of love. From outright trolls to completely oblivious weirdos, 2014 was a big year for online dating fails. Let's resolve to do better in 2015. Online dating is hard enough without total creeps coming at you 24/7.

Here are some of the best, worst daters of 2014:

1. This guy who uses the worst pickup line

A photo posted by Tinder Nightmares (@tindernightmares) on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:33pm PST




2. This winner

Via RubberBiscuits on Imgur

3. This... thing
Via rascarc on Imgur

4. This guy who group texted his Tinder matches

Via HelloMyNameIsMark on Imgur

5. This charmer
Via smurfblower on Imgur


6. This adventurous spirit
Via mishaestrin on Imgur

7. This knight in shining armor

A photo posted by Tinder Nightmares (@tindernightmares) on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:35am PST




8. This straightforward dude
Via praptor on Reddit

9. This inquisitive mind

A photo posted by Tinder Nightmares (@tindernightmares) on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:35pm PST




10. This bad guesser
Via EightyFourRands on Imgur

11. This flip-flopper

A photo posted by Tinder Nightmares (@tindernightmares) on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:41pm PST




12. This cannibal
Via WildEvie on Reddit

Watch Tom Hiddleston Sing A Christmas Carol With A Dog

Tom Hiddleston has spent months getting into character as Hank Williams for his forthcoming film, "I Saw The Light." Lucky for us, some of that prep included rehearsing in a studio with Rodney Crowell and a dog. During some down time, Hiddleston knew what the world needed right now -- happiness! so much happiness! -- and he delivered with a little Christmas carol. Sigh.

Masterfully Skilled In The Arts Of Taekwondough

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Everything The Light Touches Is Our Kingdom

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Everyone Reacts to Santa Differently

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Our Children Are in Terrible Hands

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People Do Weird Stuff in the Bedroom

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No, You Cannot Have My Number

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Built on a Strong Foundation

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5 Genius Tech Gifts Procrastinators Should Buy Now

If you haven’t done your holiday shopping yet, don’t worry. We're here to help. Introducing the second-annual tech gift guide for procrastinators, including presents that are sure to delight even the grinchiest of grinches:

Roku Streaming Stick -- $39.99 - $49.99

roku streaming stick

There are many different gizmos out there that get video and music from the Internet to your TV, but products from Roku are my favorite. They’re easy to set up and use, they come with a remote control and, most importantly, they have the most options for programming -- 1,800 “channels” and counting.

Most people only watch a few of these -- Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video are really popular -- but it’s nice to know that you have the option of subscribing to a channel of yoga classes or even one that will purportedly help your dog relax when you’re not at home.

Roku’s Streaming Stick is the latest in Roku’s lineup of streaming devices. The small device has all of the same channels as Roku’s pricier streaming boxes, but it’s a stick that hides behind your TV. It’s not as powerful, so it’s a bit slower to navigate and load than the flagship (and lightning fast) Roku 3, but it’s still a pleasure to use.

If you’re willing to pay a bit more, the Roku 2 and Roku 3 streaming boxes ($69 and $99, respectively) come with a great feature: The remote control has a headphone jack on it. This is great for those who want to watch something in bed or in the same room as someone else and not disturb them.

But your giftee will be happy with whatever Roku you choose.

Where to buy:

Roku.com, Amazon.com, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and other major retailers.

Amazon Prime -- $99 for a 1-year membership

transparent
Jeffrey Tambor in Amazon's "Transparent"

When you hear “Amazon Prime,” you probably think of free two-day shipping. After all, that’s all it was in 2005. But it’s come a long way in nearly 10 years. Amazon has realized that Prime members tend to buy more stuff at Amazon, so the company continues to add benefits to Prime to entice people to join.

Prime members now get access to a growing catalog of streaming video (which yes, you can watch on your Roku) that includes past hit shows from HBO like “The Sopranos” and “The Wire,” as well as Amazon original programming like “Transparent,” which was just nominated for several Golden Globes. Members also get access to a streaming music catalog, which is more than a million songs strong, unlimited cloud photo storage, access to a library of free Kindle titles, including all seven Harry Potter books, and discounts on some products, among other perks. The company even recently announced that it’s selling its own line of inexpensive yet eco-friendly diapers and wipes … but they’re only available to Prime members.

Amazon hiked the annual rate by 25 percent this year, from $79 to $99. But since it’s so much more than just free shipping, it’s worth it.

Where to buy:

Amazon.com

Parrot Mini Drone Rolling Spider -- $99.99

parrot mini drone

You could spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a drone, but you don’t have to. The Parrot Mini Drone Rolling Spider is a fantastic starter drone -- if there is such a thing -- and it’s only $99.

It’s a small quadricopter that you can control with a smartphone or tablet. (It's compatible with devices running iOS and Android as well as the Windows phone.) It has sensors that help keep it remarkably stable. Of course, the mini drone moves vertically and laterally, but you can also make it do flips and turns with the touch of a button.

It comes with a set of large wheels that snap on and off, which with practice you can use to climb up walls, but I find they are also good “training wheels” for protecting the mini drone when you bump into things.

Flying takes a bit of practice -- there are some great YouTube tutorials -- and battery life is low at eight minutes, but this thing is a ton of fun.

Where to buy:

Apple Store, Microsoft Store, Amazon, Brookstone, Sprint, Best Buy and more.

Wii U -- $299.99

wii u

Nintendo's latest home video game console isn't anything new, but its best games are. This year saw the release of "Super Smash Bros. for Wii U," "Mario Kart 8," "Hyrule Warriors," "Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker," and "Bayonetta 2" -- critically acclaimed games that aren't available on any other system. These games alone make for a varied catalogue that's more well-rounded than the offerings on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Those other consoles are a bit newer, more expensive, and boast better technical features (they each double as Blu-Ray players, for example, while the Wii U can't even play DVDs), but they lack unique games.

For $300, you can get the Wii U console bundled with "Super Mario 3D World" and "Nintendo Land," both of which are completely solid games that the entire family can enjoy together. The system can also access the Nintendo eShop, which lets you purchase and download classic games from Nintendo's back catalogue, including Super Nintendo and Game Boy Advance titles.

One last tip: If you're shopping for a kid (or the truly young at heart), pick up an Amiibo figure to go with the system. They're basically cool-looking plastic figures that can connect directly to certain games -- like "Smash Bros." -- to unlock new gameplay features.

Where to buy: Nintendo.com, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, GameStop, Amazon and more.

GoPro -- $129.99 to $499.99

gopro hero4

GoPro is the standard in action video cameras. Amateur photographers and professional videographers alike love them because you can take them almost anywhere and mount them almost anywhere. They take great video, and they’re extremely durable. You also don’t have to worry about focusing, and video looks great whether you’re far away or up close to your subject.

GoPro currently sells five cameras, ranging in price from $129.99 to $499. The entry-level GoPro Hero, which starts at $129.99 and came out this year, shoots high-resolution video and takes 5-megapixel pictures.

At the other end of the spectrum is the $499 Hero4 Black, which also came out this year. The Hero4 Black shoots 4K video, takes 12-megapixel pictures and comes with Wi-Fi so you can control the camera -- and play back footage -- with your smartphone.

Availibiltiy: GoPro.com, Amazon.com and retailers like Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

Need more ideas? Check out 2013's genius tech gifts for procrastinators here.

Damon Beres contributed reporting.

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And Anonymous’ Heart Just Sank

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#HashtagWars - #NaughtyListBecause

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Crowd-Funding Gets Wacky

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Richard Pryor Haunts <i>Top Five</i>

Recently I finished reading Furious Cool, a breezy yet reflective take on the life of Richard Pryor. Rather than present Pryor as merely a pioneering stand-up comic, authors David and Joe Henry position Pryor as a transcendent black entertainer, an essential link from the segregated time of the chitlin' circuit to today's world.

Pryor, the book asserts, was born from a rich tradition, a hidden culture that informed many civil-rights leaders in overt and subtle ways. Later, as he entered the mainstream, his struggles with his identity as a black public figure -- and what it means to "sell out" -- drove his self-destruction and hinted at larger problems for African Americans assimilating into an unfair, flawed society.

I thought of Pryor (the tormented artist coping with his celebrity by freebasing cocaine) while watching Top Five, the latest directorial effort from Chris Rock. As a comic and social commentator, Rock is perhaps the rightful heir to Pryor; indeed, his troubled filmography parallels Pryor's own spotty, sometimes embarrassing cinematic contributions. Rock has seemingly avoided Pryor's dark personal legacy, whose best work was behind him by the time he entered his early 40s. With Top Five he finally eclipses Pryor, at least as a filmmaker.

Rock is 49. In a recent interview he spoke fondly of aspiring to a James Taylor-type career, meaning working mainly during the summer and reserving the majority of the year for family and life outside the public view. (Referencing Taylor may be ironic for a comedian known for his Pryor-like stand-up bit "Niggaz vs. Black People.") This sense of perspective, and a playful rejection of convention, lurks just under the surface in Top Five, which debates issues of race, success and love in a way Pryor might have had he not been derailed by addiction and illness.

Pryor's legacy -- his brilliance, his contradictions and ultimate tragedy -- lingers in the shadows of Top Five. He is referenced outright by Rock's character Andre Allen during a conversation about comedy's greats. Allen admires his honesty. (In the same breath he applauds recent media lightning rod Bill Cosby for his mastery of storytelling. The film was made during the summer of 2013, long before Cosby's name became controversial.) But the allusions to Pryor go deeper. Like the real-life comedian, Allen is frozen by self-doubt. He believes his comedic gifts to be tied to drug and alcohol dependence and has turned to making mediocre blockbusters.

Pryor made the abysmal The Toy and Superman III during his middle age. For Allen it's the popular Hammy series, featuring a degrading character not unlike Martin Lawrence's Big Momma, or Rock himself parading around in films like Madagascar. While Top Five is messy in its storytelling at times, the world of the film is contemporary and has a lived-in quality that gives the Allen's plight and his search for purpose true resonance. It's as if Rock were acting out the trajectory of a comedian like Pryor in Hollywood and made small changes, correcting the lonelier aspects of his path.

In one scene Allen jokes that the only legitimate reasons to break up with someone are either infidelity or abuse. It's a startling aside -- one not warmly received by the character played by a charming Rosario Dawson -- but it's the kind of belief that would not have been out of place in one of Pryor's routines about relationships. (He openly admitted to mistreating women throughout his life.) In another scene he jokes about not being able to hail a cab in Manhattan; a taxi then stops at that precise moment, Rock updating a common brand of racial humor. Cabs may stop in 2014 -- a signal of progress -- but issues continue.

Later, when Allen finds catharsis on stage, his natural ability and effortless delivery evokes Pryor's own knack for recovering from personal trauma the only way he knew how: by performing in front of an audience. But Allen (and Rock?) is able to find professional satisfaction, and personal happiness, in ways that always eluded Pryor.

Of course, Allen is as much a reflection of Chris Rock and his own ruminations on fame as he is a mirror of Pryor. The films succeeds as a kind of superior, more lighthearted version of Pryor's autobiographical Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling. At the same time Rock's influences are obvious: The film is meant as a more urban, raucous version of Linklater's Before series, or typical Woody Allen, or maybe a more accessible version of Rock collaborator Louis CK's FX series Louie. The result is a bit mixed, tonally, but nevertheless represents a remarkable step forward for Rock as a filmmaker. In an age where most adult fare feels like strategically packaged Oscar bait, Top Five exists in an honest and often hilarious place. We need more films like it.

One final note: Richard Pryor's career featured several attempts to promote more black voices in film and encourage the work of African0American filmmakers. Top Five is a true embodiment of that dream, having been conceived by some of America's most prominent black entertainers. Besides Rock's multiple roles, the music of Top Five was done by Questlove, of the legendary band The Roots. And the cast is perhaps one of film's greatest assemblage of black comics ever. The film was co-produced by rappers Kanye West and Jay Z, who is often chided for his passive role in bettering the lives of black Americans. (Speaking of West and Jigga, the film is kind of cousin to the themes they explored on Watch the Throne, whose "Niggas in Paris" is the film's unofficial anthem. I love how Rock engages with hip-hop throughout Top Five, perhaps a spiritual hat tip to CB4.)

Rather than drape itself in Important Messaging, Top Five works best when it casually depicts its characters as they are: existing, conversing. It's daring at times and has a sense of what's possible in a way not unlike Pryor's groundbreaking sketch work on NBC. It may be sexier to talk about Selma today or bang the drum for more female auteurs; that's fine. Still, Top Five has a definitive voice and truly gets its place in the world. Its first scene features a conversation about what it means to live in a supposedly post-racial, post-Obama America. By the end it's evoking Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels, but not before completing its amusing glimpse at the lives of Americans living in that world.

Pryor would be proud.

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