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September 23, 2013 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-23

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6A - Monday, September 23, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Monday, September 23, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Van Gogh painting
shows human side

In new golden age of
stand-up, Esposito shines

4

Recent discovery in
the art world
raises questions
By MAX RADWIN
Daily Fine Arts Editor
On Sept. 16, the Van Gogh
Museum in Amsterdam unveiled
a painting recently confirmed
to be an authentic Vincent van
Gogh.
The piece - a landscape titled
Sunset at Montmajour;-(1888) -
had been purchased in 1908 by
Christian Nicolai Mustad, a Nor-
wegian collector who, after being
told that it was not an original,
kept the work in his attic for sev-
eral years.
After Mustad died in 1970, the
piece fell into the hands of an
anonymous collector, where it
was rejected from museums on
numerous occasions. Monday,
to the delight of this anonymous
owner, it was confirmed as a real
and authentic van Gogh painting.
Of course, art historical
research required time to con-
firm such things.
But that much time? Why did
it take so long for the art world
to confirm this work's authentic-
ity?
Sure, there are (very specific)
references to the painting in van

Gogh's letters to his brother,
Theo. Sure, the painting had
"180" written on it - its number
in Theo van Gogh's collection.
And sure, a truly expert art his-
torian should have been able to
distinguish between the phony
and the genuine with relative
ease. But such evidence doesn't
suffice for the art world when
the work in question doesn't live
up to its perceptions of the artist
allegedly responsible.
That is, not until scientists
matched the paints in Mont-
majour - a cobalt blue specifi-
cally, which van Gogh started
using after 1887 - with the paint
from his 1881 palette. Now all
the other evidence makes sense.
Then again, all evidence makes
sense when it's examined retro-
actively.
The art world seemingly
stalled in its acceptance of
Montmajour's authenticity,
quite possibly because, as many
art critics have concluded, it just
isn't that good.
Montmajour was painted in
1888, the same year that van
Gogh painted Bedroom in Arles,
The Night Caf6 and Sunflowers.
It was also the year he sent some
of his best self-portraits to Paul
Gauguin. This painting simply
doesn't hold a severed ear to
those works.
Van Gogh's production in

1888 was perhaps more sporadic
in quality than one would have
previously suspected. Jonathan
Jones of the Guardian put it best
in his harsh, albeit fair, analysis
of Montmajour: "... The clogged
colours and clumsy composition
show his originality struggling
to overcome influence, tradition
and nerves ... Are they really,
really sure it's not a fake? The
science is unquestionable, I sup-
pose."
It's interesting to think that
van Gogh, even when master-
ing his own masters - Delac-
roix, Daumier, Hiroshige (here,
apparently, Millet) - he still
struggled to tame his influ-
ences and produce something
born out of Western art tradi-
tions, yet equally combative to
those styles. Considering that
van Gogh completed over 900
paintings, it was bound to hap-
pen with a few of his projects.
But still, this work makes one of
the most human painters that
much more human, and that
much more mortal.
Even if Sunset at Montma-
jour is a dud, which is still very
much up for debate, art lov-
ers and collectors alike can be
happy knowing that the piece
still expands the oeuvre of one
of history's greatest and most
fascinating painters, and will
sell like one too.

This summer, I spent my
nights in Los Angeles
at the NerdMelt Show-
room, the Upright Citizens Bri-
gade Theater, Largo, the Comedy
Store. I saw
Tig Notaro do
an hour-and-
a-half-long
set, Zach
Galifianakis
break on the
same joke
three nights KAYLA
in a row, UPADHYAYA
Aziz Ansari
work on fresh
material, Sarah Silverman talk
about her active dream world,
Bob Odenkirk emphasize the
importance of honesty in com-
edy and Natasha Leggero smoke
an electronic cigarette on stage.
I was living in the epicenter of
live comedy and loving every
second of it.
New York and Chicago still
have their comedy strongholds,
but L.A. became the real place to
be for up-and-coming and estab-
lished comics alike when Johnny
Carson moved the "The Tonight
Show" from New York out West in
the mid-1970s. It was the golden
era of standup, and the iconic
late-night talk show had become
a crucial career stepping stone for
comics. While some acts remained
in New York, most comedians
followed Carson, establishing a
tight-knit comedy community that
included Jay Leno, David Letter-
man, Robin Williams and, later,
Jerry Seinfeld.
Take a look at those guys and
you'll notice something that unites
them: They're guys. Despite all the
changes going on in the comedy
world, it's still aboy's club. But
that's starting to change, albeit
slowly. Leno and Letterman are
still kicking, but the old guard is
on its way out, and theyknowit.
Earlier this month, on "The Late
Late Show with Craig Ferguson,"
Leno told comedian Cameron
Esposito she was the future. It
was Esposito's network television

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debut, and a few jokes into her set, in standup, because comedy is
she was called over to the couch becoming more democratized
to sit with Ferguson and Leno. every day. Standup is more acces-
Comedians don't always get called sible than ever before. Comedy
to the couch after their sets,but albums and late-night programs
there she was, wedgedbetween used to be the only way you could
two late-nighthost behemoths, consume standup without going
rocking her signature jean jacket to an actual live show. Now, we
and stylish haircut she affection- have tools like YouTube, where
ately calls aside mullet. And there comedians often release parts of
was a first golden-ager himself, their material for free to gauge
saying "you're the future," passing interest. I can hop on Netflix to
along the torch. watch "Moshe Kasher: Live in
I agree with Leno. In fact, I've Oakland," "Aziz Ansari: Dan-
been telling anyone who will lis- gerously Delicious" and "Aisha
ten for the past few months that Tyler is Lit: Live at the Fillmore."
I'm certain Esposito is the Next These days, comedians gettheir
Big Thing. A decade back - even starts as "Twitter sensations"
just a few years ago - I don't think and vloggers and bloggers. Com-
this would be nearly as possible as ics can use Twitter to workshop
it is now. But we're livingin a new material and self-promote. This
golden age of stand-up comedy, summer, Spotify launched a new
one in which Esposito truly can be app called "Official Comedy" that
the not-too-distant future. curates stand-up performances
Leno didn't just call Esposito and jokes from a whole range of
the future on the "Late Late both mainstream and more alt
Show." He also declared, "White comics.
men are on their way out!" Joke Not only is the Internet help-
or not, there's ahint of truth in ing comedians reach wider audi-
his words. Audiences in the new ences and getctheir material out
golden age crave more than just there, but comics themselves
your typical dude-centric com- are becoming more accessible
edy. Esposito's brand of standup as people, thanks to the rise in
doesn't conform to typical conven- popularity of podcasts. Chris
tions. She doesn't downplay her Hardwick and his Nerdist empire
identity as a woman, lesbian and revolutionized the comedy pod-
feminist: She openly acknowledg- cast movement, and now almost
es it in her work, and her sexuality every comedian in the biz has
and gender inform her comedy their own little personal plat-
in provocative and honest ways. form, where they can connect
There's a tendency for people to with their audience, tell stories
put gay comics in a box of "queer and invite their friends to join in
comedy" that can have a niche on meta-conversations about the
appeal, butthat old-guard mind- comedy world. It adds a personal,
set is changing, too, especially as emotional edge to their work and
Esposito continues to climb the allows comedy nerds like myself
comedy ladder and doesn't hesi- to glimpse behind the curtain of
tate to call out sexism and dudes personas and process. On pod-
who heckle her. casts, comedians can express
their opinions and viewpoints
with more freedom than is often
WAhitemenar allowed in a five-minute seL.
White men are These Internet-sparked
on the way out. changes to theindustry make it
On eWay U -even more possible for Esposito
to be the Next Big Thing in stand-
up comedy. Because of this new
I first encountered Esposito golden age she's coming up in,
this summer at the NerdMelt you don't have to be in L.A. or go
Showroom, the day after the to UCB every week to know what
DOMA ruling. When she was I'm talking about. Social media?
called to the stage, she read an She's all over it: Her tumblr is
essay she posted on her tumblr home to hilarious, thoughtful
before the show. The essay cap- mini-essays that often go on to
turesher initial reactions to the be featured in publications like
news, as an American, as a lesbian, Vice, Advocate and Laughspin.
as a human woman in a loving Podcast? Double check: She
relationship with another human hosts "Wham Bam Pow," a pod-
woman. cast about action and sci-fi flicks,
Most NerdMeltshows followa and "PutYour Hands Together"
more traditional stand-up format, also airs as a podcast.
but this was a storytellingshow, a It's thanks to social media
still-new subgenre ofcomedy that that I had a chance to meet
has comedians ditch their sets in Esposito myself this summer.
favor of a more narrative-based After a quick tweet-convo with
performance - one which allows her about Laura Prepon, she read
for both humor and emotion. In my "Orange is the New Black"
that respect, Esposito nailed it. review and invited me to say
She had people laughing, crying, "hey" the next time I came to
sometimes both at the same time. see her at UCB. After PYHT that
This alternative approach to live week, I met her, we talked about
comedy is a staple of the new "Orange" and "The L Word" and
golden age. Alt comedy arose as she introduced me to her fiance,
arejection of the observational another comedian and the pro-
comedy and punchline-driven ducer of PYHT, Rhea Butcher.
jokes that dominated mainstream, We hugged and went our sepa-
club comedy, but now it's practi- rate ways. It was a brief encoun-
cally the new mainstream (though ter, but it made me realize that
big-club standup still has a place in the simultaneous charming and
the new golden age, thanks mostly perceptive intensity Esposito has
to comedy giant Louis C.K. and onstage isn't just persona: It's
his self-directed-produced-writ- who she is.
ten-and-starring show "Louie"). While podcasts and social
After falling for her at the sto- media have helped to democ-
rytellingshow, my friends and ratize standup, a glass ceiling
I wentto the Esposito-hosted undoubtedly remains. We're

"Put Your Hands Together" - seeing more women on "Comedy
UCB's only weekly stand-up Central Presents" and late-night
show - almost every Tuesday this lineups, but Forbes's 2013 list of
summer. The lineup was always top-earning comedians features
incredible, but Esposito stands no female comics. Standup isn't
out among just about every comic yet free from the sexism that
I saw. Just like at the storytelling pervades the entire entertain-
show, her sets at the top of PYHT ment industry. But when you
took relevant topics pulled from have an iconic white, hetero-
current events and pop culture sexual, male comic sit in front
and infused them with smart, of 1.3 million viewers and say
honest comedy. As Esposito said white males are on their way out
herself, "... asacomic,you have and "Lesbians rule!" (the last
to be able to speak for yourself, to words declared in the segment),
eloquently and honestly convey it's kind of fucking awesome and
your opinions, viewpoint -your definitely indicative of chang-
whole self, really, to the audi- ing times. So let's make Leno's
ence during your time onstage." prophecy come true. Here's to
That's the new direction standup the future, Cameron.
is going, and Esposito executes it
masterfully. Upadhyaya is missing
We're starting to see more Los Angeles. To console her,
diverse viewpoints like Esposito's e-mail kaylau@umich.edu.

a

I

0

RELEASE DATE- Monday, September
Los Angeles Times D
Edited by Rich Norris

ACROSS
1 Clods
5 Got a chuckleout
of
11 Rolette bet
14 Lawyer's
assistant, for
short
15 Vox _: voice of
the people
16 Architect I.M.
17 Ending from Ali
19 Plumbing pipe
initials
20 Very long time
21 Endingfrom
Nixon
23 CivilWar soldier
25 Unhittable serve
27 Provedial waste
maker
28 Ship's front
30 Dilbert creator
Scott
34 Poet's "at no
tine'
35 Abandon on an
sle
37 Superman and
Batman wear
them
39 Ending from the
Elephant Man
42Parcels (ot)
43 Car window
adomments
46Atlas pages
49 Boss's
nervousness-
inducing note
51 Banjo supportof
seng
52"It's _l":wa'ving
shout~
54 Humanities
major
56 Archer's wood
57 Encing from
Lenon and
McCartney
61 Miss. neighbor
635Sat, in Quebec
64 Endingfrom
Beyonck
68 One: Pinf.
69Copenhagen's _
Gardens
70 Hullabaloos
71 Beginning for this
puzzle's fine
endings
72'Annie, frone
73 Sibilant "Hey,
YOU,"

DOWN
1 Make a choice
2 Backrub
response
3 Not achild of
bondage
4 Pudding starch
5 King Kong, e.g.
6 Sounded ghostly
7 Until
8 Bird feederlfiller
9 Movie lioness
10 Roadside
depression
11 Go up against
1 Spend, astime
13 Haggle
18 Genetic letters
22 Plunder
23Turtable no.
24 Time in history
26 Ear passages
28 Carpentry taol
31 of mistaken
identity
32"Oh, brother!"
33 " lsyhbitsy"
watepout
climber
38 Plains naive
38 Su with phon-
40 Bn in i t

23, 2013
aily Crossword Puzzle
and Joyce Nichols Lewis
44 Grant's opponent 53 Meal, in Milan
45 Put in stitches 55 Mai_: cocktail
46 2009 World 58 Bearshome
Series MVP 59 "We'd appreciate
Hidehi your anneer," on
47 Gnddesswho invitations
advised 60 'This is bade'
Odysseus 62 Vault
48 Bout beforethe 65 Half a sawbuck
main event, 66 Comedian Bill,
briefly informally
50 Garam._: Indian 67 Repair quote:
spice mixture Abbr.
ANSWER TO PREVIOUS PUZZLE:
S H A B B Y C H I C S I P S
Y O U A R E H ER E C H O O
N N D O M I N A N T H A N D
C DT K E NS T O L D Y A
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KC H E R T D I E TO K
E MT D E F AC T 0 D I G
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