Friday, July 09, 2010

Philosophy of Beauty: Is Natasha Leggero the Fergie of Comedy?


2. As a postscript to the video, or if you don't want to watch it: this is Natasha Leggerro, you might recognize her as the sole female judge on Last Comic Standing. She's 36 32 (pretty sure that changed since i mentioned it last week, but for the better!), from the midwest (Illinois, stand up!), and she's been performing since the age of 10. She's also studied at Stella Adler (everyone raise they're eyebrows for that one, please), along with having a BA in theater criticism. So she's got the performing on lock: she thinks it, does it, lives it. This is a woman who has had her Mind and Being consumed with 'being on a stage' for people most of her life. I refer to this type of profile as having "pedigree"; it works on both a nature and nurture level, the idea that you were born AND raised to do something.

3. This bit was uploaded in 2008, but per the Beyonce B'Day reference (funny!) she must have done it circa 2006 when that album dropped. After the B'Day joke she goes on to explain why she doesn't like hip hop. In general the clip makes me feel a weird confusion because the pleasure of her cute smiling face is contrasted by the pain of seeing her crudely slam the head of my beloved hip hop into the turnbuckle. and quite recklessly at that.

4. If you check out the comments on the clip you'll see two main genres: People saying, "she ain't talking about [my] hip hop, fuck this girl" and others saying, " i want to fuck this girl." Close, but different! Being that I know all too well that calm, coherent, poised articulation of one's thoughts can be difficult when emotional, or aroused -- especially in those goshdarn claustrophobic comment boxes --  so i hope these youtube snipers don't mind me trying to vet this out in the wide open air of the internet...

5. Ok. So the room of people who are upset have a fairly straightforward gripe: she's calling out "hip hop" but using 90s era Jay-Z, Diddy, and Fergie as her examples. Of course, any hip hop fan can point to a summer jam lineup of artists that would undermine the 'humor' in this without removing their earbuds. Plus: If someone came to your job and pointed to an old plaque of someone voted “Worst Worker of the Year” and said that person is "You". And then proceeded to do 2-3 minutes of comedy about you as the worst worker, well, I'm guessing you probably wouldn't find it funny. AND I'm guessing your friends who knew you (and your work/stats) wouldn't find it funny either. All considered I could see getting upset enough to leave some nasty comments on the internet. If not burn their jersey.

6. Even if you're not into nasty comments, you might be pushed over the edge because not only is this bit wrong, it's fucking old. This actually might be the oldest and ancientest of hip hop truisms. On the first day KRS-One created hip hop! On the second day he created a white person to call it "NOISE"! (wise move, KRS, keeps everyone striving). Also, if memory serves, this might be the first hip hop flame war since the dawn of hip hop and the internet. AND: it's probably happening on a hip hop blog AS WE SPEAK. you probably know this one, it goes like this:
HipHopsuxpeepee69: Hip hop is dead/stupid/uncivilized/smelly/akin to oil in the gulf/making my children evil, [possible racist addendum here, depending on the forum]
Iused2luvHER: shut up! that's not real hip hop, no one supports REAL hip hop. [mentions Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli,… and increasingly Lupe Fiasco and Jay Electronica, etc,(<---congratulations guys, you've been initiated in to the Fraternity of Conscious Rappers!)]
7. so the whole premise here is quite possibly the most redundant thing in the history of hip hop. used as a joke. heehee. ladies be shopping. so there's that.

8. But I think the Miss Leggero being cute adds a little extra heat to the fire. And this is sort of where Reality trumps Intellectual/Thinking Bullshit. The ones in the second room, who just want to "fuck this girl", those folks have more numbers. And they're all riled up because leggero is so hot. But hmmm, what could that mean? Oh beauty! It's a gift! It's a curse! It also happens to lead directly into this issue of privilege for the pretty white ladies!

9. Now, I've often wondered (from afar, so very very far): what is a beautiful woman to do when beauty affords her everything except, uh, I don't know, people wondering if she only gets by with her beauty. sounds to me like one of those timeless philosophical conundrums that make your vijay explode, or at least make you tired enough to fall asleep and forget what was bothering you. or perhaps it's legitimately nothing. in the world of blog-thinking and psychoanalysis, who knows? but on the street level, in the real world of handshakes, hugs, fantasies and hire/fire power, there's a DEFINITE issue of privilege trumping feminism for white women of a certain type. And the type is.... hot.

but honestly, it's not about 'white' woman (i think that's how it started, per american beauty standards, but it’s changed/changing -- thanks, Jezebel!) … in any case, putting race aside, eventually you get to it just being a privilege of beauty. I'm not gay (I don't think), but I've caught myself looking a little too long at a hot guy before. And if a beautiful woman sits on my lap right now, I'm pretty much just gonna stop typing and giggle! I might say something like: how'd you get in here… hottie. (that's my game people, suck on it). but no matter how my sure-to-be-pleasant exchange with the beautiful intruder goes, if an ugly woman -- nay, creature! -- interrupts, I am going to immediately call the police! YOU TRESPASSING UGLY MOTHERFUCKER. GET OFF MY LAWN!!!. I will push ugly out the door, down the stairs, off the roof. I will scrunch my face and be like, whatyoutalkin'aboutugly? I don't need ugly in my life right now, only positive things! I'm trying to better myself! If need be, under dire circumstances, I will look any ugly woman in her eyes and say: Ew.

(just kidding! will totally avoid hurting your feelings!)

9. Now parallel to the ancient hip hop flame war, you may be aware of the feminist-blogger battalion deciding on these matters of beauty empowerment RIGHT NOW: Liz LemonismMansplaining, Their Eyes Were Watching The Daily Show Sexism. These are all nuanced points of entry for a subject I personally refer to as: The "Philosophy of Beauty" conversation.

10. But the fem-bloggers are all over that business. it's not our mission today! what we're looking at is this joke. and, specifically, if beauty enables someone to mock a generation, a culture,-- and hey, why not? -- our president Barack Obama, the youth of these united states, our globe, the very LIFE FORCE of our expanding universe because that's what hip hop is, to me, and some others. (hmm, let me know if I oversold #10)

11. Now I love a good joke. And I'm pretty sure a cute face-cum-comic could redeem an offensive joke if, y'know, there's any sort of redeeming angle. Unfortunately, the whole joke is the same note. She sings Hard Knock Life, she's calling out Diddy for repurposing popular songs -- that was actually sort of funny in the 90s! -- but what I find most ironical is that it's a joke about derivate art, via a joke that's derivative itself. The clip is basically a Natasha-Diddy remix of the *fair white girl* acting out like a stupid loud black person.

Now talk about classics, *nasally white girls acting loud and black* is claaaassssssic like The Stones or The Beatles or Zeppelin, man. Everyone knows how to do that joke, and it's been been a staple of black comedy since black comedy was invented. Certainly at least since richard pryor, which is to say post-civil rights black comedy. (i feel a hush over the crowd whenever i type "civil rights", is that just me? is this thing on?)

12. the acting out in the joke's execution is key, cause that's where in the world of comics -- comedy being the treadmill the stunning Miss L has chosen to run on to get ahead in life -- it’s not a bad joke cause it’s racist; it’s a bad joke cause it’s just fucking hack. Not that you might not get a laugh in a certain crowd (i sort of invariably chuckle at white people acting black if they commit to it enough, or if i’ve had a two drink minimum), but it's not a crafted well-written joke that you would expect from Jon Stewart or Colbert or Patton Oswalt or David Cross. or, y'know, someone too good to host Last Comic Standing (this is a roast, right?). That joke is always a dud if your crowd is comics, or just smart, OR, the crowd is a bunch of horny dudes and you're a reasonably attractive woman. But I'm pretty sure if the slight less-hot Carlos Mencia did this joke, he would be man-raped. Not for love or lust reasons.

13. But FINE, it's a joke. I know, I know. I’ll lighten up. i'm light! i promise. besides, I'm writing this in my blog (so I don't have to sell drugs and candy and kill people to get by), but I have it on good word, from average joe johnson, that we would never, ever-ever, kick Natasha Leggero out of bed for eating hip hop, uh, crackers (they're shaped like famous rappers, have big egos).

14. In fact I probably wouldn't even work up the energy on this except that The Talented Miss Leggero closes this joke by sticking her heel into Fergie's head, "That woman Fergie is giving AIDS to America". Youch! Now I went on NPR, a show hosted by a black woman, and made a sexist "bitch" joke (isiah thomas scandal) that subsequently led to me writing a 20,000 word post on how I learned to not make offensive sexist "bitch" jokes on NPR. All to say, I have a tolerance for recklessly offending people. No PC Police here. BUT, if the reason for this joke, this calling out, this ethering of hip hop-as-represented-by-Fergie is because they use old songs and sample, and don't do anything original. Hmm, maybe you sense where this is going …?

15. I won't pile on. BUT, i think the larger takeaway here is how this Crime of Being Derivative is always happening. It's a huge indictment on your 'art' to not be original. Except that we know now, like never before in history, just about everything is derivative in some way. It's how we learn and grow, by assimilating and slowly tweaking, tailoring what came before us. So I think it's important to realize any criticism of of a Fergie or a Diddy or whomever is bullshit. The Awl, Gawker, Tumblr, Blogger, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Leggero, Aziz, walkie-talkies, iphones ... if you want to be an asshole about it, you can make a hack joke about anything right now as derivative. So if you're having cocktails and someone get a little full of themselves, you have TAN clearance to spit in their drink, and say, "I read on someone's tumblr today that, like, everything is soooo derivative. So phooey!" But only do that if they other person's ugly. Not that I needed to tell you that.  

17. so just to close out. (i forgot i have to compare Natasha Leggero and Fergie to make readers feel satisfied they got what they were promised in the headline.) Well, it just so happens, seemingly for the purposes of this blog post, that Leggero was born on March 26th. And Fergie was born on March 27th. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? They're both also beautiful ladies (though different types of beautiful; different convo, y'all) Also: Fergie is a "pedigree" performer, like Leggero, who has pretty much done nothing else (they'd probably have a lot to talk about if they could break through their exteriors cultivated over a lifetime of thinking about performing for people). And I could see Fergie hosting a reality show like LCS, that's what pedigree artists do sometimes to keep it moving.

So all in all, I'd say: pretty much the same person! Amazingly enough! so you can now return your seats to their upright position and prepare to return to the headline of this post….. I'm your captain TAN3000, and this has been a silly blog post about how Natasha Leggero became -- oh so ironically -- the Fergie of Comedy.

(i really think you're funny though, call me! You too, Fergie. I wouldn’t mind us all working this out together. We'll listen to classic old music and comedy routines!)


  1. What happened to all your commenters?

  2. Not sure, exactly ...

    It's been sporadic posting over the last year or so, and there's a lot of places to comment or 'express yourself'. also, there's this which is to say it's all a bit of a mystery in the commenter jungle.

    also, sometimes my writing is very smelly.

    but, thanks for commenting!


  3. So, are people commenting elsewhere?

  4. I don't know. No. Maybe? I think most of my readers read me through readers, feeds ...

    (this commenter pressure is going to make me cry.)

    ((also this is how the 10% win, and control the silent-but-caring majority....))

  5. Cry? But I'm your friend, TAN. Is this something in the link? I haven't read it yet.

    By the way, is it easier to cry in front of a friend or stranger?

  6. Oooh, good question. Maybe I'll use it for a Dear TAN!

    I'd have to say a friend. But i think some friends might be worse than strangers. we need more tiers/categories ...

    also, stranger-to-be-friend? or friend-to-be-stranger?

  7. Here is natasha leggero hip hop dancing (the last minute of the video). I thought I recognized her.

  8. Anonymous7/12/2010

    She's hotter than you, TAN. But you should get on Twitter and try to battle.

  9. This clip is tired, goes nowhere, and the unabashed racism makes me squirm. I kept expecting it to go somewhere, assuming that no comic in the 21st century would lay out something so tepid and meanspirited without building toward a twist that redeemed it at least somewhat. But no dice. Unless TAN's giving us a selective clip, which I can't imagine such an honorable man doing.

    Also, I'm a woman who likes dudes, so her cuteness does not mitigate shit for me.

  10. Aww, she just needs some new mixtapes in her life. I wonder if she likes Drake.

  11. she is no Fergie, Fergie actually has talent. She is just another Sarah silverman wannabe.

    1. MVP5753/09/2012

      I agree with fish. First of all, when hip-hop/rap artists make a chorus or hook based off a classic hit, it's a tribute to that artist and their song. It has nothing to do with using the hit and swearing over it, not by any means. Same goes for sampling, it's an ode to the artist, a tribute. If anything, it's a very positive gesture to the originator. She's cute and all, but I'm not going to give her the OK just cuz of her looks; they can only get you so far. It'd be different if she actually went somewhere with this and tried to redeem herself but she kind of just fcked herself with this one. I'd still hit it though.


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