I shall be, perhaps, more lucid if I give, briefly, the history of the vorticist art with which I am most intimately connected, that is to say, vorticist poetry. Imagisme, in so far as it has been known at all, has been known chiefly as a stylistic movement, as a movement of criticism rather than of creation. So much for the general category. Flaubert and De Maupassant lifted prose to the rank of a finer art, and one has no patience with contemporary poets who escape from all the difficulties of the infinitely difficult art of good prose by pouring themselves into loose verses.
So this is a eulogy for a podcast. Except its passing has a happy ending. They were both comedic geniuses, known for their precision and playfulness. Nasty, literate, and as honed as a pub dart. Because, for 40 minutes plus, they are unfiltered id — racist, sexist, disgusting — seeing what it feels like to say every single awful thing that comes to us in our sloppiest moments.
Go on YouTube, listen to any track. Just listen to the first track, and imagine the thousands of outraged Tumblr think pieces that wee chunk of comedy would birth were it released today.
Another favorite album of mine is Shut Up, Little Man! One of them, Peter Haskett, is a snippy queen, a surviving specimen of the self-loathing gays that lived through the oppressive horror of America in the late 50s and early 60s.
If only he could get out of his chair. Their back-and-forth screechfests and occasional drunken monologue sound like Samuel Beckett writing a two-man suicide note. I used to play it, very low, while writing screenplays, imagining it was real passion and hatred bleeding through the walls of the sterile, eerily silent apartment building I lived in all through the 90s.
Which brings me to this video. This video is a segment I did on a podcast called Walking the Room. Podcasts are the best thing to happen to comedy since George Carlin and Richard Pryor finally broke through the language and subject restrictions that — even a decade after Lenny Bruce spiked himself off of our planet — still held sway.
They freed things up. Not in terms of subject matter or censorship, but in terms of access and connection. Comedians — or writers, or performers, or anyone — can get in front of a mike and spit whatever they want.
Voices, viewpoints, sheer creativity and hilarity, all mostly for free, all at your fingertips. Hosted by Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony, it was a sometimes unpleasant, always real window into two imperfect comedians and writers, living in Los Angeles, raising families, and dealing with the fact they seem to have a low-level mutant power which, for lack of a more elegant term, make them both no-fail shit magnets.
Walking the Room dropped episodes and then ended on September 29th of this year. The first ten episodes? Horrible sound, echo-ey, Greg and Dave finding their voice, hammering out the format.
In a terrific Facebook post, Dave describes, honestly and calmly, how they both outgrew the show. Over the summer, Greg did a massive, seven week tour of Australia. Dave was accepted to do his one-man show at The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and his online Kickstarter raised the funds to send him in under 24 hours.
A podcast as real and honest as Walking the Room — which was essentially about two comedians struggling and failing — would become the pinnacle of dishonesty if they continued with it in light of their recent successes.
So watch this clip, then download all episodes and brace yourselves. I love precision, wit and grace in comedy.A long-hidden cache of Marilyn Monroe’s private letters and diaries answers many mysteries surrounding her legend.
With an exclusive look at this discovery, Sam Kashner digests the revelations.
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