Author: Sean L. McCarthy

Lewis Black in the wake of Katrina

Lewis Black, flustered? What else is new? But when Black phoned me from Atlanta, merely two days after Hurricane Katrina had flooded and ravaged New Orleans and southern Mississippi, he had plenty of new rants to direct toward the president. "My favorite is this: He flew over it and said there’s a long recovery. What a, what a — brilliant!" Black told me. "He cut his vacation short. I’m surprised he even got up to look! But he had to — it was right next door. It’s chaos down there. There’s bodies floating. What do you expect people to do? That’s not normal. This is the kind of happy snappy stuff I’ll be doing onstage." Fans of Black know that happy and snappy aren’t quite his forte. The 57-year-old has risen to national prominence through his Comedy Central appearances, foremost among them his "Back in Black" segments for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Black rants. A tragedy such as Katrina only fuels the fire that makes up his mad-as-hell, ain’t-gonna-take-it-anymore persona onstage. Cities such as New York, where he lives, and Boston tend to take to his attitude with a more welcoming attitude of their own. "There’s a bottom line of bitter in Boston comedy. I consider Boston the spiritual home of my comedy career," he...

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Harland Williams recording a CD, making a movie

If you saw Harland Williams the other night on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, you might not have recognized him. Williams, an affable, lovable goof from Canada, usually has slick black hair and big sideburns framing his animated mug. That’s gone for now, thanks to another memorable supporting movie role in the upcoming Surf School, in which he’ll play a washed-up former surf champ. "They dyed my hair completely blond, my whole head," he said over the phone this week from Los Angeles. "Now two months later, and my roots are coming back. A lot of the girls are saying it’s hot. The guys are saying I’m the new Backstreet Boy. You forget because you can’t see it, but then all the people are talking about it. So now I’m going to get collagen lips and fake breasts." That might’ve worked for Sorority Boys, one of Williams’ few misfires. More often than not, though, he has stolen the show in scenes from There’s Something About Mary (as a hitchhiking serial killer with a plan for the ultimate ab workout tape), Dumb and Dumber (as a demented motorcycle cop who pulls the boys over), and Half Baked (as the jailed friend Kenny). But he’s also a bit of a Renaissance Man, having published children’s books, sold his own paintings, homemade T-shirts and recorded music. "I think the key...

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Back from the dead

No, really. Sorry for being gone from blogland for so long, but I’ve been dealing with more death than necessary. And that’s not even counting the turmoil in my personal and professional lives that don’t involve deaths in the family. Yes, it has been a string of those kind of days. My Nana died on March 25. Being a newspaperman, I pulled the requisite strings (included calling on a friend for a favor) to ensure Nana had a proper obituary in my newspaper. After my dad, my uncles and my aunt read that, they tapped me to prepare Nana’s eulogy. She had so many people who loved her. So many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who felt her devotion first-hand. How could I capture all of that? Well, I tried my best. A few days after that, Mitch Hedberg died. I performed with Mitch and his wife several times between 1999 and 2003. I also interviewed Mitch a couple of times in my day-job capacity over the years. A good guy. A sweet guy. A vulnerable guy. A brilliantly funny yet tortured guy. I heard the news first from my dear friend in Arizona who runs the Tempe Improv, and at that point, he was hoping I could verify the crazy story he had heard. It took me several hours to find out what he already knew. Mitch had died....

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Oscars 2005 hosted by Chris Rock

Oh. What was that? Did I miss something? Nope. The telecast was just as I had predicted it in my Sunday story. In a word: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I think the problem is one of oversaturation. We saw so much of this already, and in such more comfortable surroundings, whether it was the gleeful Golden Globes or the dignified Screen Actors Guild awards — so by the time we made it to the Academy, all the fun was gone. And Chris Rock tried so hard to be something he’s not, instead of embracing his Chris Rockness. Oh well. If we’re lucky, Rock’s opening lines may have proven to be all too astute when he announced he was hosting the 77th and last Academy Awards. Chris Rock’s monologue: What was everyone worried about exactly? He even told the same jokes from his rehearsals earlier last week (and revealed online in spoiler fashion). At the water cooler (or over the instant-messaging service) tomorrow, you’ll likely dish about tonight’s Academy Awards and debate who looked fabulous, who looked fabulously awful and whether Chris Rock hit the mark with his monologue.Years from now, however, your biggest Oscar memories won’t be about who wore what, who hosted or even who won – they’ll be about what the winners said in their 60 seconds of live prime-time glory.Don’t believe me?Name the year and movie that won Roberto...

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