So I donno if any of you watch MTV. I don’t, particularly because my between-work ass is unable to afford some basic neccessities (cable) so sadly I can’t catch all those great MTV shows. But I caught that new show Yo Momma at my friend’s place. It’s hosted by Fez from That 70s Show, and I always thought That 70s Show was pretty funny, a good mix of self-effacing comedy in a charming small-midwestern-town setting so I figured I’d check this out. Anyway, Fez (er, Wilmer Valderrama, but I’ll just call his ass Fez) is hosting this dozens-style program where people represent their cities in some ya mama-joke competitions. With standard cut-cut-cut-cut MTV production style the show is heavily edited; the performers sound almost entirely scripted, the judges sound scripted, lame jokes can get the crowd ‘excited,’ and there is no suggestion that anything is remotely improvised, no implication that the guys talking shit are actually any good at it, no sense that the crowd energy is actually feeding the competition. It would not be unimaginable that the extent of crowd interaction is a light-up ‘applause’ sign operating behind the camera.
There’s something suspect about the ‘perfect-cross-section-diversity-shopping-mall’ crowd too, especially when a white dude will make a ‘your mama’s so black…wesley snipes’ joke about a black dude and everyone in the crowd goes along with it. Fez is terrible and awkward as a host; for a dude who apparently screwed Lindsay Lohan, he rates about zero on the charisma meter. They had Mike Jones on as a ‘guest judge’ and it was kind of funny because he seemed even more awkward, if only because he somehow came across as unrehearsed and unwilling to censor himself, even after MTV did their best to edit his “American Dream coming soon” album plugs down to a minimum. Really the show is pretty shitty.
I don’t know if you all had this in your cities, but in Chicago in the early-mid 90s we had a vaguely similar show that I think was on WGN late at night. I remember it because I totally stole one joke (‘yr mom’s so fat when she walks outside with a raincoat on people yell ‘TAXI!’) for playground use. BUT it was infinitely better than MTV’s current incarnation (SHOCKING REVELATION, I know). It was a show taped on what looked like a nightclub stage, in front of an audience, and I don’t remember the details of the competition structure because it was actually pretty consistently funny. Yeah it was rough-around-the-edges, there was lots of swears censored, and I seem to remember it being very poorly lit (although I was also dealing with a rabbit-ear set at the time that got iffy reception). But it all had this aura of off-the-cuff insults that rode crowd energy to victory; it was all very democratic and (authenticity alert) very real. As in, real funny. So if anyone has any idea what that show could be or if its on dvd, let me know. Anyway no point to this post really other than reminiscing and to say that Yo Momma is garbage.