Thursday, March 15, 2007

David Steinberg's Pinkie Doesn't Make Me Uncomfortable

I watched TV last night. This is becoming an increasingly rare activity for me - I'd rather do this, blogging, what I'm doing now. I skipped the electric teat on Tuesday, because instead of HOUSE they squeezed another hour out of that goddamn AMERICAN IDOL. I want my scripted shows to LOOK like they're scripted, dammit!

So it was an hour with that sprightly DAILY SHOW/COLBERT REPORT combo, followed by COUNTDOWN. The final segment of Countdown was a discussion of the exchange between Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell on AMERICAN IDOL the previous night. Somehow the banter had turned to Seacrest's shoes. "Keep out of my closet," the allegedly gay "host" of the show snarled. "Come out!" snapped Simon.

I became uncomfortable. Not because of the attempt to pry an admission out of Seacrest; whatever, more power to him. For that matter, more power to Dunkleman. Here I was, watching a program to avoid watching American Idol, and I was watching American Idol. What's more, the story was a discussion between Olberman and Michael Musto, the gossip columnist, and he makes me uncomfortable. No interview seems more scripted and forced than an interview with Michael Musto. It's not that he doesn't seem to be enjoying himself, it just the timing always seems a quarter-beat too late because he's reading and talking at the same time. This is of course true of anyone who appears on a cable news show for a segment, but Musto somehow makes it more awkward. Maybe it's the material?

10:00pm rolled around and I didn't want to watch the Daily Show again (East Coast feed - don't let it bother you too much) so I flipped around and settled on SIT-DOWN COMEDY WITH DAVID STEINBERG. He was talking to Jon Stewart.

Before I get to what really is bugging me, let me point out that the pinkie on Steinberg's left hand is bent at an impossible angle. It could function as another thumb. And Steinberg talks with his hands a lot. It's a little distracting, but I've been up close to the late John Carradine, who had arthritis that was so severe that all 10 fingers were bent at impossible angles, like he'd gotten them caught in a prism. You adjust.

But this was a talk show in which the guest was essentially a talk show host. And when that happens, it's always a very, very uncomfortable experience. It's like two dancers trying to lead. It's as natural and yin and yin.

Steinberg would ask Stewart about the difficulties of interviewing a world leader on a comedy show, and Stewart would then ask Steinberg what it was like subbing for Johnny on the Tonight Show. It became a talk show with two talk show hosts talking about the talk show business. Somewhere, an alternate universe phased out. Apparently next week the guest will be Gary Shandling, who played a talk show host in a ground-breaking sitcom about the real backstage world of talk shows.

Something is fundamentally wrong with Steinberg's bookers.

Maybe the problem is that TV Land is a TV network which is litererally about television. I don't know. But I do know that by the end of the night, when I was trying to get to sleep, I was jumpy and irritable, as though I'd been caught in a 60-cycle ground loop and aborbed too much electricity. I eventually fell asleep, but I dreamt that I was dreaming about falling asleep.

1 comment:

Skot said...

Here's a column topic for you!

Please explain the following conundrum: why do you detest AMERICAN IDOL, yet profess an abiding love of Karaoke? Aren't these entertainment modalities essentially congruent? Is is a question of passivity versus activity?

Or is it schadenfreude or jealousy? I'll admit that's why I don't watch anything on the Sundance Channel: Most of the hot young filmakers featured are boobs. I deserve their acclaim and dev deals.

You readers gots to know!

--S