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Horace & Pete: Thought in the Age of Binges

“Not only do they talk about you as being the undisputed king of comedy, but your [work] is deeper and broader,” Charlie Rose declares at the beginning of a 30-minute interview with Louis C.K. “You could make comparisons to Lenny Bruce, to Bob Dylan … comparisons to a sort of philosopher-king.” Clearly anticipating some kind of credit for coining the term “philosopher-king,” the self-serious Rose awkwardly pushes the comedian for a response. Upon realizing the talk show host was, indeed, serious, C.K. replies, “I don’t know, man, I’m just a comedian … anything beyond that I always get a little uncomfortable.”

The interview dates back to May 2014, but that goofy exchange remains indicative of just how difficult it can be to define C.K.’s current position in pop culture. His latest offering, a series entitled Horace & Pete, does little to clarify what it means to be “just a comedian.” Set within a hundred year-old Brooklyn dive bar operated by —  you guessed it — Horace (C.K. himself) and his brother Pete (Steve Buscemi), the series features the comedian pushing himself into more strictly dramatic territory and exploring new modes of independent production. Along for the ride is an embarrassingly talented supporting cast, counting among its ranks Jessica Lange, Edie Falco, Rebecca Hall and Alan Alda — who frequently steals the show as Uncle Pete, an aged, foul-mouthed bartender resentful of Brooklyn’s hipster invasion (amongst other things). Oh, and did I mention Paul Simon performs the show’s theme song?

Clockwise, from top-left: Ezioma Asonye, '16, Christian Kelly, '16,  Julie Locker, '16, Sam Morrison, '17, Jacob Kuhn, '18.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised] at Schwartz

There is no artistic experience quite like going to the theatre. Each performance of a show functions as a unique entity, and there is a challenge in recreating it night after night with consistency. Part of this challenge naturally involves exploration of the many ways in which the audience can connect with the living, breathing actors who are the true substance of the play. At its best, a show can engage with the spectator in intimate ways that no other medium can match. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised] — which played on Feb.

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The Coens Take Hollywood: Hail, Caesar!

The abundance of non-sequiturs and throwaway scenes in Hail, Caesar! is not unusual as these are the trademark characteristics of the Coen brothers’ work. As A.O. Scott put it, a Coen brothers movie is “a brilliant magpie’s nest of surrealism, period detail and pop-culture scholarship.” While this is true, you must understand before going to Hail, Caesar! that you are basically paying to watch the Coens lovingly recreate all the different styles of Hollywood product from the 1950s — westerns, noirs, swimsuit musicals and melodramas. Their new film is merely a vehicle for them to outright mimic all the films they have paid homage to previously — the Busby Berkeley dance number from The Big Lebowski, the non-self conscious roving landscapes of True Grit, the musical numbers from O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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Baskets: The Unseen Side of Clowns

Zach Galifianakis’ latest project involves him clowning around — literally. He teams up with creators Louis C. K. (writer and star of Louie) and Jonathan Krisel (director of Portlandia) for a delightfully unorthodox comedy about pursuing your dream no matter what anyone else tries to tell you. Baskets is as odd as you would assume and then some, but its peculiarity feeds and then starves your need to know what happens next. The trailer for the show invites the curious in for a peek at the darker side of being a clown: it’s smart and refreshing. The FX show revolves around Chip Baskets (Galifianakis) and his failed endeavors to assimilate into real life while pursuing his seemingly bizarre ambition of becoming a professional clown.

Sisters: Unreconciled Cinematic Family Dysfunction

Of course three minutes isn’t enough time to give audience members an unbridled view of what an upcoming movie is about. To capture the essence of a two hour movie in a condensed trailer must be a nearly impossible task, akin to describing yourself in one word or choosing a favorite band. As a result, many production companies are guilty of marketing movies in completely inaccurate ways. The trailer for the 2011 movie Drive gave viewers the impression that the feature is simply a violent action packed film in which leading man Ryan Gosling drives around town dangerously and fights drug dealers. One Michigan woman found this trailer so misrepresentative of Drive, a film she says in actuality has “very little driving”, that she sued the production company and the movie theater where she saw the film.

Stick to the Formula Next Time, CUPB Presents: Mike Birbiglia

Mike Birbiglia is known for mixing up the standup formula. Instead of doing multiple bits, he often prefers to tell a few long stories intermingled with jokes in order to get the emotional point of the story across. He is quite good at it: His last special, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” delivered personal stories of Birbiglia’s with raw emotion and humor, without being excessively self-deprecating. His autobiographical film Sleepwalk With Me (currently on Netflix) poignantly captures the isolation and sadness of being a traveling comedian. So, I was disappointed this past Wednesday at Statler Auditorium when Birbiglia performed his new show, “Thank God for Jokes,” ditching his winning formula.

“Well It is Ithaca. You Never Know!”: Paula Poundstone at the State Theatre

By ALI JENKINS

Paula Poundstone, standup comedian and star of National Public Radio’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, recently travelled to Ithaca to perform at the State Theatre. She strode onto stage right after 8 p.m. with a florescent pink suit and an enormous presence. For the next two hours, she engaged the audience with her informal comedy routine. Known for never performing the same routine twice, she mixed old jokes together with improvisational banter with the audience for an evening full of laughs. Poundstone began the night by poking fun at Ithaca itself, sarcastically explaining how thrilled she was by her timing: “What is it, the Apple Festival or something?

Seth Rogen – Laying Down the Law

Hundreds of students flooded Uris Auditorium Wednesday night for the sneak preview of Observe and Report anticipating some of the lovable Seth Rogen unfiltered and inappropriate humor. He did not disappoint. Any hopes of vulgarity, crudeness or indecency were fulfilled; as far as substance, meaning or refinement, not so much. Although the movie isn’t entirely overboard, as many students exiting the movie indicated, it absolutely crosses the line on so many levels.
Sex, drugs and tasers — one thing is for sure about Observe and Report (the second mall cop movie of 2009) Ronnie Barhardt would kick Paul Blart’s roly-poly ass.

Cornell Does Comedy

You’ve got to have a sense of humor to get by at Cornell. With the fluctuating weather, the sometimes near-impossible courses, the even more ridiculously obscure prelims and the generally serious academic mood, something’s gotta give. Comedy offers no better way to balance the C.U. pressure cooker.
Cornell’s Program Board (CUPB) rolls out the laughs by hosting a gamut of comedians to offer their biting wit and spot-on observations. But did you know that there are student on-campus comedy troupes, too? And that a few of said comedians have dipped their toes — even gotten their feet wet — in the waters of stand-up? And, lastly, did you know that these kids are funny? I mean, really, really funny?