5 Performers Who Succeeded with Dubious Talents

I’m back at Cracked! This week’s article is about people who either lacked talent but succeeded BECAUSE of it, (not despite, which would describe most of the Billboard 100 who are just ciphers for the music industry execs to make the records they want to make) although in editing the title got changed to 5 Star Performers Who Never Let a Lack of Talent Stop Them. If you want to kvetch about Tiny Tim, for example, I would reply to you that the distinction is lost in the title change, and that was not my choice. But I understand its reasons. A snappier headline always cuts to the quick of the internet.

I wrote this article fairly quickly, then suffered through a month of trying to think up a fifth person before it hit me. Aborted earlier passes are below. I thought of doing silent film star Clara Bow, who suffered through talkies, but that’s not really fair, since she got deservedly famous and then blindsided by changing technology. Besides, rumors of her Brooklyn accent being problematic are mostly exaggerated.

Screw you, history. Clara Bow was an ass-kicker.

Apocrypha

GG Allin

For many of you, GG Allin is a familiar name that embodies the true essence of punk. But for the sane among you, he was a guy who used to slash his flesh and rub his own feces into it. And holy quivering E chords was his life screwed up.

For starters, his birthname was Jesus Christ Allin, because his dad was convinced the original article had told him to name his son after J.C. the First.

I quit this one for a lot of reasons — I didn’t want it to be all musicians, GG Allin’s music isn’t amazing, but it’s half-decent punk for its day. And sure, he was more performance artist trying to elicit a reaction, but…I dunno, it didn’t feel right.

 

CHUGGO

Canada has given us so many wonderful rappers Drake. If you’d asked the average radio listener to name one Canadian rapper prior to his rise, you would hear the name Snow, and nobody really knows what Snow is. He’s more of a reggae toaster with frosted tips.

Chuggo is not a success. He is about to get out of prison and his biggest claim to fame is when the entire internet gathered round to laugh at “C’mon, Fuckin’ Guy.” There are many people famous for making terrible music, but only Chuggo managed to join their ranks while looking like a level boss from a Turbo-Grafx 16 game.

Again: musicians, and I wasn’t sure what separated a Chuggo from a William Hung or even 3/4 of the Black-Eyed Peas. They’re just people who got lucky/unlucky in an era that made it possible to spread their name. Florence Foster-Jenkins was a real achievement, because it took work to get famous for being terrible back then. And anyway, I couldn’t find a fluid way to credit K-OS and Saukrates, Canadian rap’s greatest treasure,  and keep the snappy patter. 

 


Two New Man Cave Daily Articles: Paola Shea & Syd Wilder

I asked DJ (and fellow CT shore native) Paola Shea 11 Weird Questions and wrote up an account of comedienne Syd Wilder’s latest YouTube video, in which she replies to your atrocious comments with aplomb. (Turns out “Be a gentleman” is the secret to wooing fair maids. Who knew?)

Go read and enjoy them in good health.

You know what was weird? That time I wrote up a post about her, left the office, hopped on my bike, and made it about three feet before bumping into her. And yes, I look like a bridge troll, but I swear the bike helmet gave me that stupid Vanilla Ice hair.

You know what was weird? That time I finished writing a post about Syd, left the office, hopped on my bike, and made it about three feet before bumping into her during her short visit to NYC. (And yes, I look like a bridge troll, but I swear the bike helmet gave me that stupid Vanilla Ice hair.)

She spins records and heads.


I Interviewed Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti

Boy, did I have a good time in Chicago. I usually just wander around, say hi to some friends in artists’ alley and see the city. Generally, the less I’m at the show, the more fun I have (and the more local cuisine I sup up). But this year I was interviewing creators for my day gig at CBS Man Cave Daily. So I was press, which is new. And I hit up more panels and even bought some merch. On the weekend, I ended up pitching a couple of books successfully enough to get requests for full issue. All told, I was more journalist, fan, and creator than I’ve been at a show in forever.

One of the best experiences in the foremost of those was talking with Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Because for as long as I’ve been in the outer ring of comics as a reader and indie creator, they’ve had a reputation among both fans and pros as everyone’s favorite people. And though I’ve been in their company at many parties I’ve never actually met them.

I’m a lifelong Punisher fan. I think Punisher Annual #4 was in the first dozen comics I ever bought. But the character hit some rough times. When Garth Ennis was brought in to work his magic, the title, “Welcome Back, Frank” was far truer than returning the character to his basic concept. The Punisher, the actual person, was back in the book. So in probably…1999? I wrote a letter to Marvel Knights about how incredible this scene was:

Frank makes Matt understand.

Frank makes Matt understand.

Just your typical fan letter in a time when letter columns were dying out (I believe it was important to Jimmy and Joe Quesada when they took the Knights gig that letters stay). It never ran but I received three emails in reply from the two of them thanking me for taking the time to write and share my thoughts.

Stuff like that goes a long way. I’m not sure what its emotional effect is in a world where the internet’s become ubiquitous, but back when we were still paying AOL for 100 hours a month, having access to the people who make the dreams concrete was an entirely new and joyous thing. It meant a whole lot to me that they’d take the time to reply to not only me, but surely everyone else who was writing in. They genuinely appreciated the readership, that someone was enjoying their labors.

So yeah…this. This was a really great interview.


You Have a Responsibility to Be Funny, Adam Sandler

We know Adam Sandler is funny. We’ve seen it happen. It’s not a fluke. And look, everyone has their missteps. But at least something like Little Nicky, you can say he tried for an intriguing idea, or Zohan, you can see why it would be funny in the right hands.

But I don’t think he’s trying anymore. Would you, when you can make 5x as much bank while taking sweet vacations? Because that’s what Blended is. It’s lazy. It lacks a compelling premise. And it didn’t have to be because they had Terry Crews RIGHT THERE. They could have just let him be terrific for ten minutes and gotten more laughs than their entire semblance of a plot.

You know, The Room is a terrible movie made by a compulsive liar. But at least it had a goddamn vision. Sandler is the Guy Fieri of comedy — started off making enjoyable plebian fare, and now it’s just Blorp! Glop. Splorg. Fart. 

Anyway, that’s why I wrote a Eulogy for Adam Sandler set 20 years from now. And this is probably a good time to mention I have a Twitter account called News in 20 Years.

They also peed in the blood.

They also peed in the blood.

This article owes a huge debt to Will Leitch’s magnificent Deadspin screed, It’s Not Okay to Be Shitty. (Seriously — click that link. It’s on the very short list of articles I’ve saved to my Pocket favorites, and this column is greatly influenced by it.)

Here’s your customary apocrypha:

With the clock ticking down on a terrorist threat to decimate New York, Chuck & Larry admit they’re just big, flaming gaybags for each other and they shouldn’t have to hide who they are to be happy. As they finally confront their feelings, they are evaporated in each other’s arms.  

I’m proud of this joke structure, but the fact is Chuck & Larry are FDNY, and I didn’t want the question of whether I was touching on 9/11 to distract from the joke, when in fact I just think it would be sweetly fatalistic for them to fall in love a moment before their destruction.

Jack lights a cigar with the Magna Carta and high-fives the CHILD, who is in fact, TIME-TRAVELING BABY DREW BARRYMORE, and not yet neglected by people trusted to care for her.

You’ve suffered enough, Drew Barrymore. You don’t need my taunts.


The (Comedic) Future of Sex!

Over at Man Cave we run galleries of attractive women. But must these women be mere automatons, devoid of will and agency? Nay, I say thee, naaaaay! Unless they were robots. Say, what if they were robots?

Make it so, number one: here’s a gallery of sexy robots, cyborgs, synthoids, gynoids, and even the occasional replicant. It’s: THE FUTURE OF SEX!

(Technically writing this article makes me a futurologist, since the qualifications for that job are: imagination and the lack of energy to write narrative sci-fi or invent new innovations.)

10-the-future-of-sex

 


I Interviewed Peter Tomasi

One of the great parts about my gig as editor of Man Cave Daily is I get free comics & beer. But an even better part is that I get to interview creators whose work I really admire. My latest interview is with Peter Tomasi, who was an editor in my intern days, and ended up having an even greater career as a writer any aspiring comic scribe could learn a lot from.