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Comedians Who Die Way Too Early

September 30, 2013 2 comments

Patrice O’ Neal died at the age of 40.  He was a great comic who didn’t need a set of material to go on stage and kill it.  Loved his sense of humor and his unPCness.  Greg Giraldo another great comic who did some Comedy Roasts with O’Neal died just two months ago at the age of 44.  Got me thinking about how many comics go way too young.  Here’s the SHORT list (thanks to Patrick Bromley):

– Bill Hicks

Perhaps no better, more influential comedic voice was more tragically cut short Bill Hicks. The comic — who should have been a household name, and would have been had he not passed prematurely — was a brilliant satirist and darkly honest comic who could eviscerate any given topic with the ferocity of a chain-smoking attack dog.  Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994. He was only 32 years old. Though he died too young, his legacy lives on in the comics he inspired.

– Lenny Bruce

Comedian Lenny Bruce Photo courtesy Fulton Archive

One of the godfathers of modern stand-up comdy, Lenny Bruce fought for free speech and pushed the limits of what a comedian could say and do on stage — and came up with some classic stand-up routines in the process.  Bruce, who had been a drug addict for some years, was found dead of an overdose in 1966. He was 40 years old. Comedy would not be the same without his contributions, short-lived as they may have been.

– Greg Giraldo

Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

Like a number of comedians on this list, Greg Giraldo seemed to just be hitting his stride when he died suddenly of an accidental overdose of prescription medication in September of 2010.  He was becoming quite a comedy star thanks to his killer appearances on the annual Comedy Central roasts. His comedy was smart and dark and bitingly ascerbic; he was, to put it simply, one of the best comedians of his generation.

– Mitch Hedberg

Mitch HedbergPhoto by Scott Gries/Getty Images

Mitch Hedberg is that rare comedian whose popularity and success came largely after he died or a drug overdose in 2005. He was the master of the aburd one-liner. It wasn’t until after he was gone that the mainstream public became aware of his genius, finally discovering his 2003 album Mitch All Together.  Hedberg was on his way to becoming one of the biggest, most influential comics of his generation, and his death at age 37 was a tragic waste.

– John Belushi

John BelushiPhoto by Getty Images
John Belushi was a comedy icon when he died in 1982, thanks to his breakout status on Saturday Night Live (he was one of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players) and his iconic role in the 1978 filmAnimal House. He was one of the first wild men of comedy, whose addictions and hard-partying lifestyle defined him almost as much as his need to be funny. Belushi was only 33 when he died of a drug overdose, robbing the world of one of its most gifted comic performers.

– Chris Farley

Chris FarleyPhoto by Stewart Cook/Getty Images

Chris Farley idolized John Belushi, so it’s no surprise that the simllarites between them are uncanny: like Belushi, Chris Farley started out doing sketch comedy at Chicago’s Second City. Like Belushi, he went on to become a breakout star on Saturday Night Livebefore transitioning into popular comedy films (like Tommy Boy). And, like Belushi, Chris Farley lived too hard and was addicted to drugs and alcohol. When he died in 1997 of a drug overdose, he was 33 years old — the same age as Belushi when he died.

– Robert Schimmel

Comedian Robert SchimmelPhoto by Chad Buchanan/Getty Images

Robert Schimmel survived tremendous hardship only to be tragically killed by a random occurance. He beat cancer, survived a heart attack and lived through major marital difficulties (divorcing his wife multiple times, then marrying the best friend of his oldest daughter before separating from her, too), mining all of that pain in his brutally honest, dark stand-up routines. It’s all the more tragic, then, that Schimmel’s difficult life was cut short when he died of injuries sustained in a car accident in September of 2010.

– Andy Kaufman

Andy KaufmanPhoto by Fotos International/Getty Images

Andy Kaufman was one of comedy’s greatest oddballs. From his iconic performances on Saturday Night Live (lip-synching the theme toMighty Mouse) to his supporting role as Latka Gravas on Taxi to his alternate personality as nightclub singer Tony Clifton to his late-career run as an amateur wrestler (who only wrestled women), seemingly all of Kaufman’s comedy ventures were offbeat, anti-comedy stunts. Though he lived his entire life as a health freak, Kaufman was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer at age 34 and died just one year later. Who knows what the next phase of his comedy might have been.

You can now add Patrice O’Neal to this list, as well as others like Bernie Mac and Sam Kinnison.

To be continued…

Categories: Comedy, Culture, FAIL, TV, USA

Stupid People Are Breeding, Funny People Are Dying (Patrice O’ Neal)

September 25, 2013 1 comment

Patrice O'Neal

From the AP:

“Many of us have lost a close and loved friend; all of us have lost a true comic genius,” Brandstein said.

In a tweet, Sheen said: “The entertainment world as well as the world at large lost a brilliant man.

“Patrice had that rare ‘light’ around him and inside of him. I only knew him for the few days leading up to the Roast. Yet I will forever be inspired by his nobility, his grace and his epic talent. My tears today are for the tremendous loss to his true friends and loving family,” he added.

Other entertainers also mourned O’Neal on Twitter.

“RIP Patrice O’Neal. You made us laugh til we cried,” comedian Sarah Silverman said.

Actor Jay Mohr said, “Just heard. Goodnight brother. Damn. Just ridiculous. Terrible. Beyond sad.”

O’Neal had specials on US networks Showtime and HBO and was the host of Web Junk 20 on VH1. He appeared in numerous television shows including Arrested Development, Chappelle’s Show and The Office.

Random Dan –  Another comedian passes way before their time.  Almost two months ago to the day, Greg Giraldo died of an overdose.  Whatever the reason for these comedians, it’s usually the life they lived that caused the outcomes.  But you have to think that being a comedian for a ‘career’ has to be tough on the body.  Traveling, late night shows, early morning radio.  I’m sure at every one of their shows there is  someone in attendance that would like to buy them a drink, smoke them out, or give them a bj for their troubles.  

I’ve done stand up a few times and I have always loved the idea of being a full time comic.  It just sounds like the perfect life.  Traveling, making people laugh, partying, etc.  I can see how these guys get caught up in the whole situation.  

Hopefully Patrice is the last of these guys to go young but we know that’s not gonna’ happen.  I just hope this never happens to any of my comedian friends.  

I know if I ever got into comedy this would sure as hell happen to me.

Saturday Night Live: Korea Style!

September 1, 2013 Leave a comment

By Noh Hyun-gi

Legendary American sketch comedy and variety show Saturday Night Live (SNL) has entertained the world with its pointed political satire and priceless skits for the past 37 years.

Channel tvN is taking on the formidable task of producing a Korean version. Famed director and writer Jang Jin, who will be directing the program, called it a dream come true at a press conference in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, Thursday.

But how the show full of acid political satire and sexual jokes will hit it off with the Korean audience remains to be seen.

The original

“Live from New York, Its’ Saturday Night!” Watching SNL, though not so well-known in Korea, is part of the American tradition. Every episode usually features a guest host, usually a celebrity, with a permanent SNL cast to perform live acts. In the opening sketch, various figures have made cameo appearances including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Korean version will follow the same format of a host and 16 cast members and will present 10 skits each Saturday.

Let’s talk politics

Last week, an opposition lawmaker shot a tear-gas canister into the main hall at the National Assembly as the governing party railroaded through a free trade agreement with the United States, prompting outbursts of criticism.

Jang believes today’s politics serves up a full dish for political satire.

“Before, any political satire could be directed at the ruling party. But nowadays there are a lot things to pick on in the opposition party as well,” he said.

Yet ridiculing politics is walking on thin ice and has been a realm for journalism. A podcast radio show “I’m a Weasel” has gained popularity by criticizing the current government. Recently Rep. Kang Yong-seok, who almost lost his Assembly seat over inappropriate remarks to female collegians aspiring to become announcers, filed a libel suit Thursday against comedian Choi Hyo-jong, for offending lawmakers during a show.

Jang said that he plans to be fearless and work on leveling the satire as the show goes on.

The hosts

The low recognition of SNL in Korea and the daunting role of the main guest host led many to decline the offer. Actor Kim Joo-hyuk, who has a calm and serious mask, will host the first episode. At the press conference Jang thanked Kim for taking on the challenge to make SNL Korea shine.

The producers of the show are well aware of these issues in importing the all-American show, which is why the show only has eight episodes planned. Jang said he hopes to make this a long-running show. He hopes the first season will attract more celebrities as hosts so it can continue. If Ahn Yeong-mi, the only female comedian for SNL Korea, can pull off either Rep. Na Kyung-won or Rep. Park Geun-hye like Tina Fey impersonates Sarah Palin it would be priceless.

SNL Korea will air starting Dec. 3 on tvN at 11 p.m.

 

Random Dan – I have watched a few different Korean comedy/sketch shows and they seem to be pretty funny.  The language barrier makes it tough to get the majority of the jokes but the best thing about stage comedy is that language isn’t exactly necessary.  If this show is anything like USA’s SNL it will involve current events, politics, and anything else to make an audience laugh.  I’m interested to see the reaction to this type of show in Korea.  Koreans take politics very seriously.  I’ve watched SNL for as long as I can remember.  I think Koreans need more laughter and hopefully this show can bring a new vision of entertainment.

Categories: Check-It-Out, Korea, Politics, TV, USA

Korea: USA Teacher In Demand

July 31, 2011 Leave a comment

From the Korea Joongang Daily:

As many students emigrate from Korea to the United States for higher education opportunities, Korean hagwon (academies) and parents find it increasingly necessary to prepare children with exposure to a Western education by hiring American teachers.

Because Western norms have been embedded within these instructors’ gestures, speech and behavior, these teachers provide education in English while also exposing students to Western culture.

Kwon Yi-joo, a rising high school sophomore who currently attends a private academy in Gangnam District, Seoul, talked about the recent increase in the number of American teachers at her school. “In the past four years that I have attended this academy, there has been an increase in American teachers,” she said. “I think this [trend] is positive because as a student, I prefer having an American teacher, as it is guaranteed that someone who knows the material very well is capable of teaching the material precisely.”

“Sometimes Korean teachers can be somewhat unreliable when it comes to mastering a Westernized education.”A SAT academy in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul, has increased the number of American teachers it has hired in recent years. In 2000, the academy had only two American SAT instructors, but in 2011 this number increased to five.Similarly, another SAT prep academy in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul, increased the number of courses taught by an American teacher from three, in 2009, to seven, in 2011.The Popularity of U.S. Study Abroad Programs has Fueled Demand for American Teachers.When discussing the reasons for recruiting American teachers, the Sinsa-dong academy described these American teachers as possessing something no Korean teacher can obtain: personal experience with American culture.

One tutor at a popular hagwon in an upscale south Seoul district, who asked to remain anonymous, described Korean students’ curiosity about the U.S.

bi-curious?

“There’s a certain curiosity, and I’m sure they want to know what it’s like [in the U.S.],” said the tutor, who first travelled to Korea in 2000 to teach. “They can get that information from these teachers to gain knowledge about the country they’re going to study in – not just through the subject but also from the personal experiences of the teacher.”

This same tutor believes that an American teacher offers a certain trust to parents and students, which has increased their employment in Korea.

“There are lots of factors, but I think the overarching reason is that it is similar for most students,” he said. “[The] number one reason people go to these academies is to learn. And I think the biggest thing is [that they come with a] certain trust and feeling that they are going to get the best education from these native speakers rather than someone who can speak English but is not familiar with the culture. A lingering doubt evolves from that type of teacher.”

The trend has grown as numerous Korean hagwon are being swamped with an abundance of prospective students interested in studying in the U.S.

Competition is another driving force behind this trend, as Korean parents compete with one another to get their children to the top.

A woman with the surname Seo, who is the mother of a 15-year old teenage boy, hypothesized about why this trend is becoming prevalent.

“Because competition among students is becoming progressively more cutthroat, parents want their children to have a certain advantage over other students, in order to be victorious in the ‘battle,’” she said. “Therefore many students are registering at academies that offer courses taught by American teachers.”

In this environment, hagwon are also in constant competition with one another, and they are hiring American teachers to give themselves an edge.  Seo conveyed her aspirations for her son’s future.

“I want him to have the best future possible, so I think it is necessary to enroll him in courses taught by an American instructor,” she said. “Eventually he will be going to college in the States, so why not prepare him with someone who is familiar and has experience with not just the American academic system but with the people and culture itself.”

                             

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Random DanIt makes sense to want a language teacher from the country you will be studying in. But how much culture do you really expect to learn from a teacher (especially one that doesn’t speak your native tongue)?

I like this statement from the article: “I prefer having an American teacher, as it is guaranteed that someone who knows the material very well is capable of teaching the material precisely.” I’d argue that knowledge of material is definitely NOT guaranteed just because that teacher is from an English speaking country.

I’m not sure of the stats but I’d say 90% of the English teachers here don’t have masters degree and maybe 66%+ bachelor’s degrees aren’t related to teaching or English field (linguistics, literature, etc).

Maybe that’s why the requirements to teach in Korea (minimum: bachelors) are just for that reason: They don’t want an excellent grammar teacher or someone specializing in English but just having someone “provide education in English while also exposing students to Western culture.”  But like i said, how much culture do you expect from a teacher?  I didn’t learn any culture from my high school and university Spanish classes.  Maybe that was my fault, but I really doubt I would have learned much culture even if that was my only reason for taking those classes.

Well, I can’t complain that much.  I’m a white male from the USA between the ages of 25-40.  If only I had blue eyes I’d be the ‘ideal’ teaching candidate in Korea.

We can’t win ’em all.

Categories: Education, Korea, Politics, Teaching, USA
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