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Among my fellow viewers, the presenters at last night’s Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget elicited reactions ranging from “Who the fuck are you?” (Jim Norton) to “I’m impressed you’re still alive, but why are you here?!?” (Cloris Leachman), which, I suppose, is not terribly surprising for a comedian whose career peaked close to 15 years ago.  Within the cavalcade of has-beens who lined up rip Saget to pieces, John Stamos did his best to set the high-water mark with a gutsy on-stage makeout session with Leachman and vets Gilbert Gottfried and Geoff Ross chipped in with strong bits. The real star, though, was Norm MacDonald.

Largely invisible since the cancellation of his sitcom and the massive box office failure of his movie Dirty Work (directed, incidentally, by Saget), Norm was on the recieving end of some vicious jokes about his career and his supposed gambling problems.  Gottfried’s assertion that Saget was “a necrophiliac [because] he fucked Norm MacDonald in his career,” was a particular highlight.  But on a night when most of the roasters relied on stale jokes about Saget raping the Olsen Twins and the Johns (Stamos and Lovitz) being gay, Norm stepped to the mic and did something truly courageous: he bombed. 

Like a much funnier Neil Hamburger, Norm’s set relied on wooden delivery and terrible punch lines to generate laughs.  During his first few jokes, the audience sat in stunned near-silence, unable or unwilling to laugh as MacDonald floundered on the stage.  But as the sharp contrast between Norm’s self-consciously awful zings and the biting, vulgar wit that preceded them became apparent, everyone let their guard down.  In short order Norm’s utter lack of humility garnered the biggest laughs of the night, and it worked because he didn’t care whether people laughed with him or at him — he just cared that they laughed. 

Do yourself a favor and watch the full video of his performance.  (If you have problems with the sound, clips can be found @ comedycentral.com)

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On Tuesday news broke that condom purveyor Lifestyles had offered global tweeny-bopper sensation Miley Cyrus a $1 million dollar contract to endorse their product.  Nevermind that Cyrus has pledged a vow of abstinence until marriage, that the target demographic for her marketing behemoth alter-ego Hannah Montana is the 6-14 range, and that Cyrus herself is only 15!  And they say that the age of innocence is dead.

I recognize as much as anyone the need to ensure that teens understand the dangers of unprotected sex, but this latest play borders on the absurd.  It’s one thing to have “the talk” with your child as they enter adolescence and prepare to start dating; it’s another thing entirely to have to explain to a 9 year-old what Hannah means when she sings her latest bubblegum hit about “shielding your rocket.”

Thankfully, Cyrus and her handlers had the good sense to turn the offer down.  Judging by the Vanity Fair debacle and the risque pictures that keep finding their way to the internet it’s the only good sense exhibited by anyone in the Cyrus camp recently.  Still, though the wholesome image Cyrus trades on is cast into sharper relief by the media frenzy surrounding her behavior, it’s nice to see a recognition that some things are more important than money . . . even if the decision is motivated more by the desire to protect a flagging reputation than to protect America’s youth.

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