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November 17, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-11-17

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Arts

6A - Monday, November 17, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

TV/NEW MEDIA REVIEW
Peretti is really
'One of the Greats'

FILM REVIEW
'Dumb and Dumber'
sequel disappoints

Chelsea Peretti
presents nuanced
set in Netflix special
By AKSHAY SETH
ManagingArts Editor
Once upon a time, on a warm
summer afternoon, atesome point
after 12 p.m. but before 12:30, a
plate-glass
door collided A
with my
face. I could Chelsea
have cursed. Peretti:
could
have stink- One of the
eyed the Greats
door,, glared
through Availabe for
my now- streaming on Netflix
watery left
pupil, shaken my fist at it like a
disgruntled old man cheated out
of Bingo winnings. But I didn't. I
had to keep moving. After taking
off work early, I had to burn out
a seven-hour drive from Los
Angeles to San Francisco and
pick u my friend Brian ("GET
THE FUCK IN THE CAR,
BRIAN") in the distant hopes of
making a live taping of Chelsea
Peretti's first hour-long standup
special. The cool glass pressed
up against my cheek wasn't
gettinginthe way. It was awake-
up call, an adrenaline-pinching
throttle.
The first bit of verbal dialogue
in "Chelsea Peretti: One of the
Greats," which debuted on
Netflix last Friday, is the phrase
"so many trials and tribulations
brought me to this point." She
whispers them with faux-
gravitas,likesomeone convinced
the words are complete bullshit
but only partly so. Anthony
Jeselnik often uses the same
effect masterfully throughout
his act.
And it's the same puffed-
up shtick visible in eretti's
turn as Gina Linetti on Fox's
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine," where
the writing necessitates her
character perpetually tread
those lines between laughing at
her coworkers and becoming a
spectacle herself: the arrogant,
deadpanning weirdo with
an even weirder (beautiful)
penchant for hip-hop dance and
Oprah's tea parties. The final
result is in parts scene-stealing,
in parts erratic, but always,
always interesting to watch - a
magnetic presence in a show
ruled by idiosyncrasy.
Achieving a similar bearing
in 75 minutes of standup can be
difficult, only because the very
act of getting on a stage and just
talkirgto a crowd of strangers
demands some measure of
honesty ou a n't contrie

There she is, literally feet away from the great Akshay Seth.

reactions in live comedy. The
format is too formulaic: a comic
saysfunnythings,people laughat
said funny things. And without a
very specific environment - one
as weird as Peretti's responses to
it - it's hard to maintain the self-
reference that brands her humor.
That is, until this standup
special. This time, we're given
the typical slate of joke-telling
we'd expect at a comedy show.
There are hilarious stories
about texting your dog, richer
ones about getting relationship
advice from attractive women,
but what sets this special apart
is how openly Peretti seems
willing to play with form.
Instead of just following the
medium's natural trajectory, the
method we've seen greats like
Louis CK or George Carlin settle
for, she experiments. Carlin
and Louie have both started
specials with some variants of
a lead-up to the theater. Carlin
has a conversation with his cab
driver; Louie walks through
the streets of New York City
toward the venue. Either case
suggests the same centerpiece:
the actual standup, the spoken
word, and nothing dare break up
the careful pacing of that spoken
word, carefully rung togeher
after nights beating it into place
at comedy clubs. All building
toward this crowd of thousands.
Peretti tinkers. Rather
than Carlin or Louie, she
invokes Richard Pryor, her
jokes mercury-like in the way
they veer in temperature and
tone. Like Pryor, she interjects
running gags into her show,
one featuring her dressed as
a weepy clown and another
where she toys with audience
reaction shots (to offer any more
info would be a disservice to
how naturally she utilizes the
joke). Which isn't to say all this
hoopla serves as a crutch for
the more traditional aspects of
just standing behind a mic and
talking. Near the beginning of
the special, the gags feel a lot
more like breaths of fresh air,
but Peretti has mishandled the
momenum a bitby the end.

burying it underneath dense
standup rather than really
sticking with the opportunities
it could have created. I walked
away thinking she didn't fully
believe she could pull it off.
Partially, this has to do with
how wide-ranging the jokes
are. Though the transitions are
seamless, Peretti jumps across
a seemingly endless rolodex of
topics.
We could start with an
extended tirade about "pissing
off really hot girls" and end,
a minute later, with another
tirade about armpit liposuction.
(The highlight, though, has to
be her impression of "slipping
in pools of booty sweat.") The
effect is you really do feel like
you've sat through an hour-plus
of material, but there's never any
denying that the material itself
is jammed with great, quotable:
punchlines from cover to cover
("do you guys think it's worse to
wear a fedora or kill 15 people").
But Peretti is at her best
when she's talking about the
differences in confidence and
self-esteem - a motif used
frequently before setting up the
topics broached - and simply
so because it reasserts that
balancing act between laughing
at the spectacle and becoming
the spectacle. It stands apart
from Jeselnik, propped by its
much more open, nuanced
willingness to question self.
One of the reasons I wanted to
be there for the live rendition of
these jokes, which, together, will
undoubtedlygo downin boththe
fedoraand standup comedy halls
of fame, was hubris. I wanted to
be visible in the special, the over-
excited face cheering on Chels
from the third row. And I made,
it. I was there. Brian was there.
We were screaming, following
along with all of Chels's cues.
But there were two shows. And
we didn't make her final edit.
I spent a large portion of this
weekend straining at every
single audience shot, hoping to
spot my sweaty face.
I wasn't there. But One of the
Greatswas.

Carrey and Daniels
returnwith the
same schtick
By CONRAD FOREMAN
Daily Arts Writer
Sometimes stories demand a
follow-up. Other times fans clamor
for more material from familiar
characters.
And in these D
instances,
sequels are Dumb and
destined to Dumber To
be.
"Dumb Quality 16
and Dumber and Rave 20
To" is not Universal
one of those
instances.
Twenty years after the original
moronic adventure, Harry (Jeff
Daniels, "Looper") and Lloyd
(Jim Carrey, "The Mask") have
returned. In this follow-up effort,
Harry and Lloyd find themselves
on another cross-country voyage
in search of Harry's long-lost
daughter (Lloyd's true motivation
being sexual attraction to his
friend's daughter), who the
pair hope can provide a kidney
for Harry, who's in need of a
transplant. Along the way the duo
of dunces come into possession
of an invention that could save
humanity, placing them on the
hit-list of a trio of murderous
villains.
If the setup sounds familiar, it
mightbebecauseyoujustwatched
the first "Dumb and Dumber."
Beyond that, "To" relies on a
constant stream of callbacks to its
predecessor, referencing or just
repeating most of the original's

At least it's not a Sorkin script.
notable jokes. The puppy car
makes a brief appearance, the
audience re-acquaints with
Harry and Lloyd's blind disabled
neighbor and Lloyd introduces
the second-most annoying noise
in the world.
Despite the warmed over
jokes, practically every punchline
boils down to Harry and Lloyd
being dumb. While this doesn't
automatically derail the film,
it does place a challenge on the
writers and performers to use
.this simple gag in creative ways -
a challenge they do not live up to.
Instead, "Dumb and Dumber
To" relies too heavily on fart/
poop jokes and unnecessarily
sexualizes women at every
turn. of the three notable
female characters, one is a self-
proclaimed "titanic whore,"
another has a foot fetish and
the third is the object of Lloyd's
creepy affection. At another
point, Lloyd yells at a female on
stage to "show us your tits," and
while the ignorance is clearly
meant to be the butt of the joke,
offensive material as the entirety

of a joke has long been played out.
Especially interesting is to
see Jeff Daniels regress into the
role of Harry, considering his
recognition for "The Newsroom,"
an HBO programin whichDaniels
regularly delivers piercingly
intelligent monologues. For an
actor that prides himself on awide
range of genres; the timing of the
release of "Dumb and Dumber
To" couldn't be more appropriate,
sandwiched between the first
two episodes of the highbrow
drama's final season. Jim
Carrey on the other hand, while
having proven himself a capable
dramatic actor, seems much more
at home delivering another of his
signature slapstick, exaggerated
performances.
The truth is that you already
know if you'd like this movie; it's
exactly what you expect it to be.
If the Farrelly brothers' humor is
up your alley, then enjoy. For all
the film's shortcomings, it does
seem to connect with its audience,
filling the theater with laughter
throughout. -Why exactly people
find it so funny remains a mystery.

r

TV NOTEBOOK
Mindy' better shape up.

By KAREN HUA it can't carry -the weight of the
Daily Arts Writer entire show. What once drove the
series - Mindy's character devel-
Firstly, do not call me a opment and the unpredictable
"Mindy Project" hater. The nature of her spontaneity - now
show, Kaling, Lahiri - I truly begins to wane. Her progression
love them all. As a female of as a character now refers more to
ethnic minority myself, I aspire her growth as a girlfriend. Espe-
to reach her level of career suc- cially if she is trying to inspire
cess in the future; I am inspired young girls, she must exemplify
by her unapologetic ability to be how she can stand as an indi-
herself and I can only dream of vidual, even with a boyfriend.
finding my own Danny Castellano Whereas Mindy had her best
(Chris Messina, "The Newsroom") friend Gwen (Anna Camp, "Pitch
one day. "Mindy" is incredibly Perfect") in the first two seasons,
cathartic after bad date nights itseemslikeshe doesn'thave alife
and in a more general sense, she beyond Danny now. Mindy, cdear,
helps me feel more self-confident what happened to sisters before
as a young woman. In many ways, misters?
Mindy has become a sort of on- This is where the show
screen best friend. That being becomes difficult, because for all
said, I feel entitled to do what us "starry-eyed, but imperfect"
good friends should do - point girls who look up to Mindy, she
out her flaws. is no longer an equally "flawed"
First off, Mindy, good for you character herself. She has the
for turning two seasons of friend- dream job that she makes bank off
ship into solid commitment with of. She has the impeccable ward-
Danny. The pilot and sophomore robe that greens our eyes with
seasons teased our hearts, keep- envy. And now, she has the guy of
ing us squirming with sexual her fantasies, too. So, Mindy, you
tension that was all too palpable. have the job, the money, and the
However, now that the "happily guy - everything you said you
ever after" has been reached, the ever wanted. What else are you
story's natural conclusion should strivingfor?
entail. The rest will only be a Mindy no longer possesses any
static plotline of banal content- grander goals beyond the pur-
ment. Now that the chase is over, suit of love that she has already
where else can this relationship attained. Now that she has a boy-
go that we haven't seen before? In friend, either she no longer cares
the past, the couple already toyed about other matters (of social jus-
with a "break-up, get back togeth- tice, of career growth, of friends or
er" situation, so there is no room family), or the series is coming to
to relay that again. No one wants a dead-end. No good show strives
a sitcom where the entire season off of harmony or peace. They are
revolves around an on-and-off driven by conflict, turmoil and
relationship. dilemma. Sure, Mindy, you give
Nevertheless, Mindy, I praise us hope that we may one day end
you immensely for showing the "up like you with everything we've
beauty, exhaustion and sacrifice ever dreamed of - but for now,
behind an exclusive committed you're becoming increasingly dif-
relationship - a truth that can be ficultto relate to.
incredibly empowering for young The primary problem with
women everywhere. Unfortu- Mindy now is in her morally
nately, though you solidly tackle flawed character - but that plays
misogyny, you need to realize that out in micro-conflicts between her
television audiences are bored by and Danny that don't flow along
monogamy. Mindy, you're too a consistent plotline. Instead, the
quickly becoming "that girl" who show would benefit by widening
finally has a boyfriend and won't its scope to explore multiple rela-
stop talking abouthim. tionships within the community
Even though "Dandy" is (ugh) of doctors.
so adorable together, the only There are so many charismatic
plotline conflicts that exist are secondary characters, but Mindy
between them as a couple and simply has continued to give them

inadequate screen-time to delve
into their personas. If the series
divested focus onto some sub-
plots, we could look to Danny and
Mindy's (often petty) relationship
issues with a refreshed patience.
Mindy, you have to understand it
can't always be all about you!
Jeremy (Ed Weeks, "Docu-
mental") and Peter (Adam Pally,
"Happy Endings") are individual-
ly hilarious in their own right, and
we want to see more dimensions of
their character besides their fight
over Lauren. Morgan (Ike Barin-
holtz,"Muscleman")andTamara's
(Xosha Roquemore, "Precious")
relationship has also barely been
explored. Each of these characters
have only been given one episode
to "showcase" their problems: for
Jeremy and Peter, bonding over
the beer pong tournament; for
Morgan and Tamara, her allergy
to his dogs. Their issues are played
out in choppy sequences instead
of in consistent subplots that run
throughoutthe season.
Even six episodes into the sea-
son, there also are so few character
additions. Thus far, only two new
(slightly prominent) characters
are introduced - Danny's mother
and Lauren, both of whom are
barely referred to in most epi-
sodes. The show has historically
ignored secondary characters so
much that we barely notice Bet-
sy's departure. Sadly, she is so
irrelevant to begin with that the
writers think they can continue
with no explanation. Similarly,
Bev could also completely disap-
pear from the show and we prob-
ably would not realize either.
Ultimately, "The Mindy Proj-
ect" is running out of topics that
haven't already been covered by
other rom-com sitcoms. Believe
me, I do love you, Mindy, but
season three simply feels like
an unnecessary sequel to your
movie that has already ended.
Outside of the series, Mindy
Kaling as a writer, director and
actor is so immensely talented
that I (and probably many
others) would appreciate seeing
her work in other scopes. She
has a charming on-screen
presence, but that can be shown
elsewhere in contexts besides on
"Mindy." Girl, it's time to invest
your energy in other projects.

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