Welcome to Obsessed, a weekly series featuring everything the KQED Arts gang can't stop talking about. We're bringing the conversation from the watercooler to cyber space! This week, we're freaking out over the genesis of Wayne's World, Madonna's fall at the Brits, a new cartoon that's not just for kids, and more!
The Birth of Wayne Campbell
It may be a depressing indictment of Saturday Night Live ’s current form, but I loved that the only truly funny part of the show's 40th Anniversary last week came courtesy of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey resurrecting Wayne’s World. As a sincere, longtime fan who knows both spin-off movies by heart (my all-time happiest childhood memory, no joke, is when my parents pretended we were going out grocery shopping but took me to the movie theater to watch Wayne’s World instead), discovering Mike Myers’ first outings in character as Wayne has brought me so much joy.
A year before SNL, Wayne made his debut in 1987 on Canadian TV variety show It’s Only Rock & Roll (as a ‘contest winner,’ no less) in his own recurring segment called Wayne’s Power Minute. From the very first one, he’s still basically the same loveably enthusiastic, incongruously florid Wayne, just with a strong Canadian accent and a slightly worse wig. All his It’s Only Rock & Roll appearances make me laugh like a drain, but my favorite has to be ‘Wayne’s Encyclopedia,’ in which Wayne discusses his self-penned Encyclopedia Metallica, complete with ‘History of Metal’ biology flowcharts (“Amoeba → Protozoa → Zep”) and tips for living the metal life: “A Volvo is bogus.” With the self-indulgent horrors of the later Austin Powers movies and The Love Guru, it’s easy to forget Mike Myers used to be really funny.
Last week, the podcasting world felt the equivalent of a bombing when it lost one of its rising comic stars. Harris Wittels, who died last Thursday of a suspected overdose at the age of 30, was not just a writer on some of television’s funniest shows (Parks and Recreation, Eastbound and Down, The Sarah Silverman Program), he was like a ringer for podcasts. He was one of those names that made me want to check out new shows on iTunes I had never heard of. And as for his own podcast, Analyze Phish, in which he tried to convince friends to like the band Phish, well, those 10 episodes will be some of the first entries into the Podcast Hall of Fame.
Wittels was so witty he coined a term, “Humblebrag,” for when one tries to be self-deprecating while bragging in order to keep appearing modest. Take that in for a second: he was 30 and he had already invented a word.
Googling Harris Wittels can lead into an Internet k-hole, but I highly suggest honoring his memory by reading his columns on Grantland and listening to his podcasts on Earwolf, especially the first “Farts and Procreation” episode of Comedy Bang Bang. And if that's not enough to convince you to check out his stuff, just know that the Westboro Baptist Church made light of his death. Don't let them win!
Stone Quackers is a cartoon buddy comedy created by Ben Jones, a multi-faceted artist and key member of the influential art collective Paper Rad. Jones now works for Fox creating subversive cartoons, and his magnum opus is now featured on FXX (and available on Hulu!). Stone Quackers follows pals Clay, Whit and Barf through trying times and epic goofs. It takes dramatic turns from sweet stories into dark, twisted humor, and you can tell the creators love what they're making. They reference beloved '80s TV production styles, and my favorite clip shows Barf and Whit dancing to a Michael McDonald song to help Clay get over an ex-girlfriend. To call Stone Quackers a stoner comedy wouldn't do it justice. It's really an art cartoon. Bonus: John C. Reilly voices a lovable supporting character, Officer Barry.
Madonna Has Fallen and She Can Get Up
Did you watch the Brit Awards yesterday? Yeah, I didn't think so. Taylor Swift worked it to Kanye's performance and Ed Sheeran won an award, but the real news of the night was what happened when Madonna took the stage in her adopted homeland to perform new single "Living for Love." All was going swimmingly...until a dancer tugged on her cape, causing her to fall down a small flight of steps and land hard, dropping her mic. Madonna resisted immediately firing the person responsible, unlike Beyoncé that one time. Instead, she got up and kept singing live!
I'm not obsessed with this moment because she fell. My interest comes from the fact that she wasn't lip-synching (even though most do these days) and that she kept going and that she probably doesn't care what everyone will think about this or anything she does from here on. In this week's Rolling Stone, she opened up about ageism (which rears its ugly head in just about any article or conversation about her these days):
"It's still the one area where you can totally discriminate against somebody....Only females, though...Women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they're not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don't follow the rules. I never did, and I'm not going to start."
I haven't loved a Madonna album since 1998's Ray of Light. But I'm glad she's still at it, unapologetic as ever, paving the way for women to do whatever they want, to fall and get back up again.
Shout out to my honorable-mention obsession: Christina Aguilera singing like Britney Spears and Ed Sheeran singing like Christina Aguilera.
Want more? Check out our past obsessions!