Every blogger in the known universe will quote the famous title and eighth track of of Steve Martin’s third comedy album, released in 1979 and certified gold, in discussing the most recent explosion on the part of Air America Radio host Randi Rhodes. I thought we’d be a little different and quote from track #3 of the same album to title this post.
But it is true, comedy is not pretty, especially so when a famous person in another field but a rookie at this paticular sport takes a stab at it. Geraldine Ferraro, one of the unfortunate victims of Randi’s attempt at standup March 22 in San Franscisco, compared this incident to Don Imus’, but it more closely resembles the Michael Richards fiasco. Richards made his name in sketch and sitcom comedy and post-Seinfeld tried his hand at standup, losing the crowd miserably and then his own self-control and common sense in the end. Any unknown rookie in the same boat would have been long forgotten, but Richards found himself all over the YouTube. As did Rhodes.
What I have said previously about both Imus and Richards applies to Randi as well here. It wasn’t that what she said was offensive. No, what was wrong here was that what she said wasn’t funny. And what I can’t understand regarding this business is what the hell Randi Rhodes was doing attempting standup comedy in the first place.
In “Left of the Dial,” Rhodes makes a big deal about her bona fides in radio. She complains often of lack of support from the network despite that she’s the veteran and the others are radio amateurs. She mocks their rehearsals prior to launch. On launch day, she yells down Ralph Nader and sits through the commercial break with a shit-eating grin on her face. The documentary lights this scene as the plucky unknown radio pro showing these dumb amateurs how it’s done, by gum. And I really like that part of the film. But in context of this, it just falls flat.
Howard Stern doesn’t do standup. You’d think the two communications forms would translate, but they don’t necessarily. Marc Maron is a brilliant standup comic who happens to be brilliant on the radio. Randi Rhodes is good on the radio. What I don’t understand is how someone who feels so strongly about the blood sweat and tears she’s shed pursuing her radio chops would imagine she could just stand up and have six minutes of gold. Watch Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian sometime. You’ll see how hard these people work just for six minutes, how much they fail at first, how many clubs they play nightly.
At the very least, Randi, why not bother with a punchup session with Maron? He is, truly, one of the best working comics out there today. He would have told you, hands down, Randi, take the “fucking whores” line out. It’s not funny. It’s not fun. Lisa Lampanelli could sell it. Kathy Griffin could sell it. But they’re comics. All it might do is take you off your day job for awhile, as it has. The meek Air America Radio has, as usual, instead of standing next to its talent, suspended Ms. Rhodes for crap she didn’t even say on the air. That’s a stunner, really, but the silver lining is that you’re really nothing in radio unless you’ve been fired or suspended a time or 12. The suspension is a feather in Ms. Rhodes’ bonnet, actually.
At least this incident has offered confirmation that Ms. Ferraro still doesn’t get it. Ms. Ferraro, let me explain this to you. Randi Rhodes is not an old white dude, and you are not the Rutgers women’s basketball team, and she did not call you nappy-headed, and she did not do so on the radio. You are a well-known public figure and a white lady, which means you would be much better served to shut the hell up on the issue of race and, for gods’ sake, STOP. APPEARING. ON. FOX. “NEWS.”
Off to pack for Vegas, to gird my loins for a Maddow-centric “Countown” tonight and the final season premiere of “Battlestacked Galactica.” God bless America.