Fry Guy

Click here to listen to a recent 43-minute Weekend Edition interview with the brilliant Stephen Fry. He talks about directing his first movie, Bright Young Things; the Hilton sisters; Jean Harlow; and much else.

Here you can listen to a Weekend Edition interview with Fry from 2002 in which Fry's novel Revenge (known in Britain as The Stars' Tennis Balls) is discussed.

Cleese Tease
John Cleese has posted a humorous little video announcement on his website.

Ban. on Books
I've never read anything by John Banville, but I was utterly captivated by him in this Bookworm interview. Banville has a beautiful voice and a deep and profound mind.


March Madness

This is the cover of the March 1969 issue of Mad magazine. You can eyeball all the other Mad covers here. (Via Kingdom of Love.)

Babbling Brooks
Mel Brooks was recently on The Leonard Lopate Show. Listen to the interview here.

Listen to classic Mel Brooks-Carl Reiner routines on this episode of Comedy College.


Talking Beck
This excellent hourlong BBC Radio 2 documentary about Beck's life and work features extensive interviews with Beck and his collaborators.



Smooth Talk
The object of the British game show Just a Minute is simple to relate, yet extremely difficult to achieve: to speak on a given topic for 60 seconds without repetition, deviation, or hesitation.

Comedy genius Peter Cook managed to do it on a 1979 episode of the show. To listen to that episode, click here.

Just a Minute is still on the air. You can listen to the latest episode here.

Future Reference

Newsday's review of The Future Dictionary of America is very favorable.

An excerpt:

"The Future Dictionary of America" enters the pantheon of satirical dictionaries like Flaubert's and Bierce's with a notable distinction: It is jam-packed with winningly offbeat suggestions for making the world a better place. Its jaundiced eye is interconnected to both a brain and a heart, not to mention a first aid kit, a hammer and a tiny vial of fingernail polish in a color called Burnt Icicle.

Published by Dave Eggers' press, McSweeney's Books, this new dictionary is meant to look like a dictionary from the middle of this century. It consists of more than 150 of America's best writers' defining words - pre-existing or newly fashioned - in an effort to "voice their displeasure with the current political leadership, and to collectively imagine a brighter future." No writer or McSweeney's staff member received remuneration for their work, and all proceeds will go to progressive causes, such as Moveon.org. (The book also includes a CD with songs by David Byrne, R.E.M. and others.)

In a world in which everyone has an opinion but no one has any advice, this book is manna. Its advice, coming as it does from disparate sources, ranges greatly, from the utilitarian to the slightly loopy. On the former front, Katha Pollitt offers the "Icelandic system ... a practice, supposedly based on child- rearing methods in medieval Iceland, of sending teenagers to live with other families in order to learn adult skills and behavior from grown-ups they have not yet learned to manipulate and despise." Jim Shepard proposes the advent of a "No 'There' There Kid": a sixth-grader, chosen from a national competition who monitors all White House press conferences and rings an electronic bell when questions have been left unanswered.

More off-kilter, if no less needed and well-imagined, are entries like Sarah Vowell's "garden for disappointed politicians," which, named after Alexander Hamilton's belief that a garden is a helpful refuge for a disappointed politician, would see the creation of a farmable plot "'outside the Beltway' - way outside - in Portland, Oregon."

I am proud to be among the many contributors to The Future Dictionary. Here are my definitions:

errorgance (er´ur guns), n. a feeling of smug superiority over those who do not share one's own erroneous or misguided convictions: The president's errorgance alienated most of the Western world.

non-America (non uh mer´i kuh), n. the world outside the United States. Today, thanks to improved geography education and the unprecedented ease and popularity of world travel, Americans know and love non-America nearly as much as they know and love their own country, but it was not so very long ago that most Americans were only vaguely aware that non-America even existed. In a 2009 study, only 13 percent of Americans could find non-America on a map, and, of those, 85 percent admitted it was "just a lucky guess." In a similar study conducted two years later, Americans were asked to name any country in non-America: 89 percent couldn't name one, 2 percent said "Canada Dry," and everyone else said either Narnia or the Moon.

science (sy´uns), n. systematic knowledge of the material world as obtained through rigorous observation and experimentation in accordance with the scientific method. Though responsible for the greatest technological innovations of modern times, it was inexplicably shunned by American policymakers early in the twenty-first century. This abandonment of science led inevitably to the Great Horribleness of 2010, which, in turn, set the stage for the Calamity of 2012. In the painful aftermath of these disasters, Americans realized the error of their ways and, ever since, have embraced science for what it is: a lens through which the blurry world can be seen much more clearly.


In this episode of Bookworm, art spiegelman talks with host Michael Silverblatt about his forthcoming book In the Shadow of No Towers. Read more about the content of the book here and here.


Thomas the Prank Engine
SCTV's Dave Thomas was the guest on today's episode of The Treatment. The first season of SCTV has just been released on DVD.

Tiptop Tip
The following is from the "McSweeney's Recommends" page:

Stephen Fry
Actor, director, comedian, novelist, screenwriter, aviator ... Talentwise, Stephen Fry is like a one-man Cirque du Soleil. Known both for his big brain, which is roughly the size of Saskatchewan, and for his kindness (also Saskatchewan-sized), Fry is a top-notch human being. Hugely famous in England, he is almost unknown here in the States, which is a shame, because it means that A Bit of Fry and Laurie—the hilarious sketch show he did with his pal Hugh Laurie—is not widely available here. Fortunately, Fry's memoir, Moab Is My Washpot, is available here. Read it. It is brilliantly funny, achingly sad, and wise.


I Like "Ike"
Brilliant piece on McSweeney's today: "Ike Turner's Guide to Restoring America's Honor."


Wordy Allen
Here are seven short interviews with Woody Allen. These were first published in the September 30, 1971, issue of Rolling Stone.

George on My Mind
The September issue of The Believer will contain an interview with Simpsons writer George Meyer. The issue will reproduce the entire first issue of Meyer's legendary humor magazine from the late '80s, Army Man. And, as if that weren't enough, the issue will also contain an interview with Army Man contributor Ian Frazier.


The Adams Family
George Saunders has a very short, very good story in this week's New Yorker. It's called "Adams."

A Defining Moment
Over at The Onion A.V. Club, Louis C.K. answers that age-old noodle-scratcher "What is funny?"

Go to louisck.com to eyeball several videos of Mr. C.K. being hilarious.

By the way, Mr. C.K. will be on Late Night with Conan O'Brien tonight.

Triumph of the Will
Click here to listen to an interview with Will Ferrell on The Charlie Rose Show. The interview is from July 7, 2004.

Nam de Plume
The great Don Steinberg has a hilarious quiz over at McSweeney's today. The quiz helps you answer that nagging question "Are You Another Vietnam?"