Camille Paglia explains why Donald Trump is a great stand-up comedian

Over at Salon, Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Cosby, Sanders, feminism, and more in three different pieces. She's super interesting and thinks like a comic in her premises. You hate at least some of what she's saying but you're fascinated by all of it and damn, she sure is smart in her arguments. Here's her take on Trump as carnival barker/comedian and how she brought her own improv/comedy experience to the stage when dealing with hecklers.

Comedy, to me, is one of the major modern genres, and the big influences on my generation were Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Then Joan Rivers had an enormous impact on me–she’s one of my major role models. It’s the old caustic, confrontational style of Jewish comedy. It was Jewish comedians who turned stand-up from the old gag-meister shtick of vaudeville into a biting analysis of current social issues, and they really pushed the envelope. Lenny Bruce used stand-up to produce gasps and silence from the audience. And that’s my standard–a comedy of personal risk...

[Trump] takes hits like a comedian–and to me he’s more of a comedian than Jon Stewart is! Like claiming John McCain isn’t a war hero, because his kind of war hero doesn’t get captured–that’s hilarious! That’s like something crass that Lenny Bruce might have said! It’s so startling and entertaining.

It’s as if the stars have suddenly shifted–because we’re getting a mix-up in the other party too, as in that recent disruption of the NetRoots convention, with all that raw emotion and chaos in the air. To me, it feels very 1960s. These sudden disruptions, as when the Yippies would appear to do a stunt–like when they invaded Wall Street and threw dollar bills down on the stock exchange and did pig-calls! I’m enjoying this, but it’s throwing both campaigns off. None of the candidates on either side know how to respond to this kind of wild spontaneity, because we haven’t seen it in so long.

Politics has always been performance art. So we’ll see who the candidates are who can think on their feet. That’s certainly how I succeeded in the early 1990s. Before that, the campus thought police could easily disrupt visiting speakers who came with a prepared speech to read. But they couldn’t disrupt me, because I had studied comedy and did improv! The great comedians knew how to deal with hecklers in the audience. I loved to counterattack! Protestors were helpless when the audiences laughed.

So what I’m saying is that the authentic 1960s were about street theater–chaos, spontaneity, caustic humor. And Trump actually has it! He does better comedy than most professional comedians right now, because we’re in this terrible period where the comedians do their tours with canned jokes. They go from place to place, saying the same list of jokes in the same way. But the old vaudevillians had 5,000 jokes stored in their heads. They went out there and responded to that particular audience on that particular night. They had to read the crowd and try out what worked or didn’t work.

Our politicians, like our comedians, have been boring us with their canned formulas for way too long. So that’s why Donald Trump has suddenly leapt in the polls. He’s a great stand-up comedian. He’s anti-PC–he’s not afraid to say things that are rude and mean. I think he’s doing a great service for comedy as well as for politics!

Her no-shits-given/I-make-my-own-feminism perspective reminds me of Fran Lebowitz a bit. (Thx JF)

Btw, I'm amazed when anyone takes Trump seriously. He doesn't actually want to be President. He wants to get his name in the news as much as possible so his awareness increases of the Trump brand and then he can license it for more to the shitty vodka, golf course, condo building, suit manufacturer, or whatever else that wants to pay him for it. Everyone who mentions him just makes him richer. So Donald, you're welcome.


Film school in a day

Three of the best avenues online that I've found to learn about filmmaking:

1) In the AV Club's Scenic Routes, Mike D’Angelo looks at key scenes, explaining how they work and what they mean.

2) Every Frame a Painting is dedicated to the analysis of film form. "My name is Tony Zhou. I am a filmmaker and freelance editor based in San Francisco. I make video essays that run from 3 to 9 minutes. Each one focuses on one filmmaker or one aspect of film form. So far I've tackled topics as diverse as Akira Kurosawa's use of movement, Satoshi Kon's unique editing style, and how movies depict texting and the internet."

3) The Story of Film: An Odyssey on Netflix. Award-winning film-maker Mark Cousins' documentary about the history of film, presented in 15 one-hour chapters.

Some cool excerpts from an AMA with Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting:

Funny story about China and filmmaking:
In 2007, I was traveling in Tibet and walked into a small teahouse in the middle of nowhere. The proprietor didn't speak Mandarin and neither did any of the patrons, so I ordered by gesturing.
Jaws was on TV, horribly subtitled in big white Chinese characters and dubbed in Mandarin. Everyone was watching. So I stuck around and watched, too.
Here's the crazy thing: the TV sucked, the image was obscured, the patrons couldn't understand the dialogue. And yet they were still scared of the shark. Tibet is a high-altitude desert, nowhere near the ocean. But man, there was one lady freaking out that the shark was going to eat Brody's kid.
I didn't think much of it at the time, but honestly, that viewing of Jaws is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. To this day, I refer to the "Tibet Test" when I think about filmmaking. Is this movie still comprehensible after bad dubbing, shitty subtitles, a crappy TV, and an audience who doesn't understand the context?
Jaws is a masterpiece of visual storytelling, and I can prove it because I saw some Tibetans scared of the shark.


I think this is a huge problem in filmmaking today too: the myth of the perfect first feature.
I am going to (at some point) make a video essay called "Everybody Used to Suck" comprised entirely of footage from everyone's earliest directorial work.
Scorsese's first feature was actually called Bring On the Dancing Girls and it bombed so bad at NYFF that he didn't do anything for a few years, before repurposing it into Who's That Knocking. Tarantino never finished his first feature, My Best Friend's Birthday. Kubrick hated Fear and Desire so much he destroyed every copy. The list goes on and on, but the myth of the "first feature" is exactly that: a myth. Everybody used to suck, it's just that everybody also hides their earliest work from the public.


Honestly, the #1 thing I look for when I'm watching a movie is the feeling that there's a human being on the other side talking to me.
Like, it can be the crappiest, most poorly made film in the world, but if it feels like a human being desperately trying to tell me something, I stick around and watch.


Editing ah my scourge.
1) Try editing standing up. I cut like this. Walter Murch cuts like this. We're gonna start a club. You may not end up doing it, but you'd be surprised how different your body feels. Just remember that you need to take care of your body because editing is very stationary. Even if you end up sitting, take breaks.
2) Always sleep 8 hours. Nobody edits well on lack of sleep, and it is a stupid belief in this industry that editors want to lose rest. No, we don't.
3) Trust your emotional instincts. If you watch a piece of footage and it gives you an emotional reaction (whether a laugh, a feeling of disgust, happiness), save that clip and mark it down.
4) Get to the rough edit as quickly as possible. The assembly is always brutal. Get to rough so that you have something passable to show people.
5) Show it to people. Do not trust what they tell you to change. People are extremely good at feeling when something is wrong, but not always at articulating it. Your best guide is to watch their reaction during the film. Wherever you see attention flag, or a laugh, mark it down. If they write up their notes afterwards, you can read em, but never trust those notes more than their actual reactions while watching.
6) Editing is largely mental and mostly about patience. Basically, there's you and there's the footage, and you're going to wrestle. You will eventually come out on top, but the footage will not make it easy for you. Subdue it. Kill it. Drink its blood. Mentally, of course.
7) Every once in a while, test yourself by doing a speed edit. Basically, knock out something in 8 hours. You will fly on instinct and get to the end and realize that hey, your instincts aren't half bad. Now go back and overthink everything.

I dig the Tibet Test.

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CK stopped by HOT SOUP last night

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The evolution of love letters

1815: "My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of you kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart. I thought that I loved you months ago, but since my separation from you I feel that I love you a thousand fold more. Each day since I knew you, have I adored you more and more."

2015: "you up? send me some n00dz 😎"