23 Year Old Michael Jordan With David Letterman

Posted in David Letterman, Michael Jordan on June 16th, 2012 by Willie

I just tuned into the fabulous new documentary on the 1992 Dream Team, the magical group of Olympic All-Stars led by Michael Jordan.  If you grew up as a kid in the 90s like I did, Michael Jordan was the closest thing to experiencing Babe Ruth.  It didn’t matter what team you were a fan of, watching Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominate basketball was a thrill right out of a comic book.  Jordan played with passion, creativity, and inspiration, and he came to represent the icon of American achievement, proudly setting the bar for success higher and higher.  The thing I like most about Michael was that he never shrank from the spotlight and never felt embarrassed to be who he was.  Many icons of sports and popular culture exude a bitterness and resentment in the face of overwhelming media attention and praise, but Michael embraced it and owned it.  Criticism did grow around Jordan, concerning the colossal commercialization of his name and likeness, but I always felt that criticism was a bit wrong headed. While it was certainly true that Michael lent his name to anyone with a big enough paycheck, he never pretended that it wasn’t anything other than enjoying the spoils of money and fame.  His appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman when he was then just a 23 years old emerging phenomenon, shows Michael constructing this public identity, which was a cross between a crass walking commercial, and, somehow, an unpretentious everyman burning with the universal desire to be great.  Letterman, also young and spry, does his part in helping create the myth and legend, and the clip below is just a lot of fun.

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Eddie Vedder, Emilio Estevez, Adam Sandler Shooting SNL Promos in 1994

Posted in Fun and Crazy, SNL, Youtube Favs on December 6th, 2011 by Willie

Making a television show is difficult, especially one like Saturday Night Live where all the content is written and produced a week in advance before live airing.  From the looks of this video, making an SNL is a long an tedious process.  Here, they are just making a promo spot, and even though this video is edited to 9 minutes, it probably took well over an hour.  It’s fantastic to watch though.  First you have Eddie Vedder, appearing in April of 1994, a few days after Kurt Cobain killed himself.  Eddie and Pearl Jam did a nice little tribute to Kurt as you can see in the picture above with the “K” on Eddie’s chest.  That’s just a bit of rock and roll history, but in this clip you get to see a nervous and very young Adam Sandler yuck it up with Eddie, whom Adam is clearly enamored with.  You also get to see the oddly detached Emilio Estevez, famous brother of Charlie Sheen, and son of Martin Sheen, interact with these other two icons of film and music.  At one point Eddie asks Emilio, how’s it been this week, to which Emilio replies, “I believe everything’s been good, just fine.”  It was awkward, and Emilio looks like he’d rather be anywhere else then with some long haired grunge rocker and with the jittery nutbar Adam Sandler.  This video is fascinating and revealing, and an awesome time capsule of one of SNL’s golden eras.  Check it out!

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Twenty One, The Quiz Show Scandals

Posted in Quiz Show Scandal, Youtube Favs on November 7th, 2011 by Willie

A movie I always loved was Quiz Show, the 1994 film directed by acting legend Robert Redford.  The movie is about the infamous practice of game show rigging that went on in the 1950s, especially at NBC with their hit show “Twenty One.”  Proclaiming to audiences that the questions to the answers were kept in a secure bank vault, the reality was that the contestants were outright told the answers before the broadcast, and were also told when to take a dive when the audience grew tired seeing them win.  It was a stunning fraud perpetrated to keep rating high and sell the sponsor’s products, in this case Geritol, a “tired blood” supplement.  The movie focused on Columbia University teacher Charles Van Doren, a handsome, well bred, and well spoken intellectual, and Herbert Stempel, an unemployed everyman from Queens who was asked to take a dive.  Stempel went along with the fraud because he was promised a future on television which he never received.  Incensed by NBC kicking him out the door, Stempel blew the whistle on the whole charade, eventually getting the attention of federal prosecutors in Washington DC who helped blow the lid off the thing.  The movie is great because its a rich and sumptuous look at the glamorous side of late 50s New York City, precipitating the look and feel of shows like “Mad Men” and “Pan Am.”  What I have below is the actual episode of the show that the movie was based on, so you can see for yourself where reality differs from the movie.  The most striking thing about watching the actual Van Doren/Stempel contest is what amazing acting these guys did in the phoniest of situations.  They were just regular guys with no entertainment backgrounds asked to put on a show in front of 50 million people.  It’s truly remarkable.  I’m also including the trailer for Quiz Show just to entice you to watch in case you haven’t seen it.

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Andy Kaufman on Letterman

Posted in David Letterman, Youtube Favs on November 4th, 2011 by Willie

Many people refer to these days as the golden age of comedy.  With tons of late night comedians, stand-up super stars, box office comedy blockbusters, and comedy nerds running rampant, its easy to buy into that hype.  Well, it might be the case that comedy is bigger then ever, but there probably isn’t one comedian from today’s day and age that comes close to matching the genius of Andy Kaufman.  All you have to do is watch the clip below where Andy appears on Letterman and hardly says a thing for the first few minutes, but manages to have the audience rolling with laughter.  When he goes into a monolog about his fucked up life, tells people not to laugh, and proceeds to beg for money like a homeless guy, what’s real, and what’s the act, is so blurred at that point, that its truly mind-blowing.  Credit also goes to Letterman for playing the strait man so convincingly, that you truly believe that he has no idea whether or not what Andy’s doing is real or not.  It would be unimaginable to think what Andy would be doing had he lived to this day, so check out this timeless performance from one of the funniest people that ever lived.

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David Letterman's First Late Night Show Ever

Posted in David Letterman, Youtube Favs on November 3rd, 2011 by Willie

On February 1st, 1982 David Letterman launched the Late Night Show on NBC.  As you can tell by its overly dramatic and irony fueled science fiction opening, Dave was far ahead of his time.  Understanding David Letterman’s genius is partly based on knowing what a clear cut revolutionary comic visionary he was.  Not only was he fully secure in his own comic voice, always bleeding confidence over every comedy beat, he was a broadcasting natural, just a seemingly perfect physical fit for the television medium.  When Dave is on TV, he is just in his natural environment.  It’s really harder to imagine the man in real life, and according to those who work with him and know him, the real Dave is a neurotic and socially awkward mess of a man.  TV Dave is the complete opposite, a titanic colossus of confidence and  razor edged awareness.  His first show on NBC is just a remarkable time capsule of his talent and impact, and I got all 7 parts for you to devour below.  You’ll get Dave at his most classic, giving you a bizarre monolog poking fun at himself and NBC.  You’ll get a hilarious tour of the NBC studios, and you’ll get Bill Murray being young and brilliant.  Oh yea, you get Mr. Wizard too.  This is awesome, so check it out and brighten up your late night.

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Conan O’Brien’s First Show

Posted in Conan O'Brien, Youtube Favs on November 2nd, 2011 by Willie

I’ve been all over the world the past few weeks, from Maine to New York, to San Francisco to Seoul, and now to Sydney.  It’s been a whirl wind of adventure and excitement, but on all those long plane trips, I had to keep my mind occupied with something.   Luckily I had Bill Carter’s newish book, The War for Late Night.  Not only did it track the recent tumult at NBC between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, it tackled the whole history of late night television and all its stars.  The book got me interested in tracking down legendary clips from Late Night’s long winding path, and I found some real choice ones I’ll be posting this week.  The first is the opening segment from Conan’s debut on NBC 18 friggin years ago, amazing its been that long because Conan still seems so young and vital.  The clip is the cold open and Conan’s introduction to the world where people warn him of the pressure in replacing David Letterman.  Conan takes it all in stride, happily tying a noose around his neck just before his debut.  It’s hilarious, and a piece of comedy history, so check it out folks because I’m back.

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Ben Stiller and Bruce Springsteen, SNL and the Ben Stiller Show

Posted in Bruce Springsteen, Fun and Crazy, SNL, Youtube Favs on October 10th, 2011 by Willie

Saturday Night Live is really hit or miss this days, mostly miss, but sometimes, when they get a guy in there who knows sketch comedy, like Ben Stiller, they can hit a few home runs.  That was case the other night when Ben revived his classic impression of Bruce Springsteen from his cult hit “The Ben Stiller Show.”  The bit was a clever, almost throwback comedy parody that reminded me of the golden age of sketch comedy found in the 90s.  In the sketch, Ben is Bruce selling you nothing but the stories he tells in between songs, and it’s pretty damned funny.  It was nothing revolutionary, but it really evoked that spirit of classic grunge era sketch comedy.  The next clip is a collection of all the Ben as Bruce bits from the “Ben Stiller Show.”  You get to see Bruce teaching kids how to count, delivering a baby, fighting in a bar, and warding off aliens.  You even get to see Bruce travel through time and help out old Abe Lincoln, (awesomely played by Stiller Show alum Bob Odenkirk.)  Speaking of Bob, if you catch a hint of Mr. Show whilst watching the Springsteen compilation, you’re not smellings things because both Bob and David were head writers there, and went on to make their own masterpiece of sketch comedy shortly following the Stiller Show’s brief run.  So get ready to laugh in UHN, TWO, HEE, HOOR!


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Seinfeld, The Movie!

Posted in Larry David, Seinfeld, Youtube Favs on August 18th, 2011 by Willie

Some of the best running gags on Seinfeld were the fake movies the gang was always seeing.  Rochelle, Rochelle, Death Blow, Checkmate, and Sack Lunch all come to mind, but it all begs a larger question, what would a Seinfeld movie look like?  Well, luckily some genius on the internet has no shortage of ideas.  These really must be seen to believed, but I’m gonna present you my three favorite Seinfeld movies coming soon to a theater near you.  The first is “Kramerica,” a tale of a country boy and cockeyed optimist, who gets caught up in a dirty game of worldwide diplomacy.  The second is “The Real Peterman,” the tale of a rich playboy whose perfect life is about to come crashing down when the world learns his crushing secret, that he’s a fraud.  The last flick is “Jerry the Great,” a story about an arrogant man’s rise to dark power, and the backstabbing betrayal he commits against his best friend.  There are more trailers beyond these three, and they are surely worth seeking out as they will entertain Seinfeld fans to no end.  Enjoy.

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Seinfeld, Michael Jackson, and Montages

Posted in Larry David, Seinfeld, Youtube Favs on August 7th, 2011 by Willie

Youtube is kind of awful.  I found some absolutely golden clips from “Seinfeld” that I’d love to post and do intensive analysis of, but nearly all of the clips are disabled for embedding.  Luckily, I have found a few killer scenes that have escaped the clutches of the youtube machine for now.  They’ll probably be taken down in the future, but I live for the moment.  The first montage clip is my favorite.  It’s the gang all dancing around to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” from Off the Wall.  It’s short but sweet.  The next clip is everybody making crazy noises, and the clip after that you see them in their craziest get ups.  The last clip, the famous Superman montage, is a bonus that I’m linking off site to represent the both the tyranny and wonder of youtube.  Enjoy.


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Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind (Live)

Posted in Bob Dylan, Youtube Favs on August 3rd, 2011 by Willie

I’m not ready to leave this concert from May 23rd, 1976 at Hughes Stadium.  For this segment, Bob is leading his band through a scorching rendition of “Idiot Wind,” another track from Blood on the Tracks.  This live version is especially nasty the way Dylan just bashes his electric guitar and snarls every lyric.  The song is about his ex-wife Sara, at least according to Bob’s famous son Jakob.  Bob denied this, but Jakob famously said that the nastier tracks from Blood on the Tracks are, “my parents talking.”  It doesn’t matter, because again, Bob puts the universal touch in all his songs, and this song is no different. It’s a remarkable and scathing diatribe of broken love and bitter nostalgia, and its a great moment in rock and roll history. A true folk rock gem whose long running time shouldn’t scare anyone from playing it, and if you are, well, you’re an idiot.

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