Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Defense Of ... Katy Perry, Brett Favre, Frank Caliendo and Robin Williams

There are some folks out there that don't need some tool with an erratically updated blog to defend them. But every now and then, when haters gotta hate, bloggers gotta blog in response.

I'm not sure why I feel it's my duty to stick up for the people who are targets for whatever reason, but I am posting these defenses without any intended irony. Plus, I'm sick on a Saturday night and looking for something to do, so now's as good a time as any.

In Defense Of... Katy Perry
The haters say she's one-dimensional, ditsy and overproduced. And yeah, she flopped onto a giant cake overseas. But the easy thing to do would've been to dismiss Perry as a one-hit wonder after "I Kissed A Girl," the catchy yet gimmicky lipstick-lesbian tune. To the credit of Perry and her A&R rep, her follow-up single of "Hot N Cold" is the real deal. She showcases her voice on the latter hit and has an underrated set of pipes (among other things). During a recent appearance on Howard Stern's radio show, she turned what I thought was going to be an awful acoustic rendition of "I Kissed A Girl" into a surprisingly nuanced and controlled performance. Plus, I think she's embraced her tongue-in-cheek style in a way that's refreshing in a world of narcissistic "talents" in the music industry these days.

In Defense Of... Brett Favre
The guy who just couldn't do anything wrong in the eyes of the media while playing for the Packers pretty much ruined that sentiment when he retired and unretired every 14 seconds. It was pure torture for not only Green Bay fans, but also everyone else in the country who just wanted to read about anything else on And when NASCAR almost becomes a more relevant story, that's a bad sign. But thankfully, once Favre was traded to the Jets, he brought a ton of buzz to a franchise that hasn't felt it since Broadway Joy came through on his Super Bowl guarantee. And despite the off-season drama, it's easy to see why the rejuvenated Jets have responded to him: He loves to play the game and makes everyone around him better. If he can avoid another postseason meltdown, he might just become the Mark Messier of Gang Green.

In Defense Of... Frank Caliendo
We go from Favre to the guy who made a name for himself parodying John Madden's unhealthy undying affection for Favre. Haters say the "MadTV" alum wore out his welcome not only for beating the Madden impression to death but for being involved in "FrankTV," the TBS sketch comedy series whose aggressive ad campaign turned viewers off to the show before they ever thought about turning it on. On top of this, some of his impressions are at best mediocre (Jerry Seinfeld) and as ESPN's Bill "Sports Guy" Simmons pointed out recently, all of them seem to involve people over the age of 45. While I won't defend "FrankTV" -- it's at best inconsistent, at worst a snore -- Caliendo himself is, dare I say, "very funny." His stand-up is artfully well-crafted and requires a precision that many stand-ups either don't or can't pull off. The way he shifts from character to character both in terms of voice and body language within fractions of a second is nothing short of astounding.

In Defense of ... Robin Williams
Now we go to the inspiration of one of Caliendo's impressions: Haters say the often over-the-top Williams steals material from other comedians and plays the same character in all of his comedic movies. And while I can't possibly know if or how much material Williams has stolen from other comics, I believe it's more about his incredible retention of all things funny and less about malicious intent. Besides, his delivery is one of a kind. One of the best stand-up sets I've ever seen was his 2002 HBO special, "Live on Broadway," which had my sides sore and my eyes tearing upon multiple views. And while one could make the argument that many of his cinematic characters in comedies are regurgitations of his schizophrenic act, his dramatic work is outstanding outside of the occasional "Patch Adams." (Then again, what dramatic actor hasn't had a clunker now and then?) He's a legit Oscar-winner, after all. Plus, the guy earns bonus points from me for showing up unannounced on multiple occasions at Manhattan's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre to perform improv with house troupes. From what I've read, the performers and audience members had nothing but raves to say about not only his comedy but also his team-oriented approach.