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January 28, 2011
"Ron Babcock ? he's definitely emerging in that alternative comics world. The thing I love about Ron is that he's like that guy that you sat next to in Spanish class who was always cracking jokes and getting you in trouble for laughing. And now he's still that guy, but he's also way cool and didn't get all fat like those other guys did from high school. "He's very observational ? he has this great bit about this book about evolution and dinosaurs ? he's definitely the smartest guy in the room.
Funerals are, traditionally, a time for seriousness, the one ritual at which belly laughs are notoriously disrespectful. . .unless, say, Berkeley's Rev. Doug Adams is in the pulpit. A minister who often tops his somber, black preacher's robe with a Snoopy stole, Adams is renowned for telling the favorite jokes of the dearly departed--at their own memorial services. And if the jokes are too blue for church consumption? That doesn't stop Adams. He still alludes to the material just to get the congregation laughing, carefully skipping the offensive details.
January 6, 2006 | Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
While watching Roger De Bris sashay with queenly elegance across the forefront of Susan Stroman's version of Mel Brooks' "The Producers," I had a double laugh. The first laugh arrived because Roger is very funny, as men in high heels routinely are. The secondary laugh came when I realized that somehow Mel didn't get the memo. The memo read, "To all American Entertainment Executives: It is no longer considered appropriate to make fun of the way certain highly feminized gay men walk or talk.
November 19, 2010 | By Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times
"I love Maria Bamford. She makes me laugh. I think she's hysterically funny. She performs all over the place [in LA]. Have you seen her? She's so funny ? she's one of the few people that really makes you laugh hard, who's doing something so interesting and insane. She does a lot of voices. She has a very high voice and she does a lot of characters and people in her life ? with deep voices ? and it's just a unique, bizarre act. I've seen a lot of comics and it takes a lot to make me laugh really hard.
October 14, 2009 | Barbara Ehrenreich, Barbara Ehrenreich is the author, most recently, of "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America." A version of this article also appears at
Feminism made women miserable. This, anyway, seems to be the most popular take-away from "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," a recent study by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers that purports to show that women have become steadily unhappier since 1972. Maureen Dowd and Ariana Huffington greeted the news with somber perplexity, but the more common response has been a triumphant "I told you so!" On Slate's Double X website, a columnist concluded from the study that "the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s gave us a steady stream of women's complaints disguised as manifestos ... and a brand of female sexual power so promiscuous that it celebrates everything from prostitution to nipple piercing as a feminist act -- in other words, whine, womyn, and thongs."
November 17, 2010 | By Keith Thursby, Los Angeles Times
Carroll Pratt, an Emmy-winning sound engineer who also worked with the inventor of the laugh track and spent decades adding laughter and other effects to a variety of shows, has died. He was 89. Pratt died of natural causes Thursday at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco, said his son, Scott Ouchida-Pratt. Pratt was working as a re-recording mixer at MGM in the early 1950s when he was approached by Charles Rolland Douglass, who invented the Laff Box, which was basically a series of audiotape loops.
October 6, 2010 | By Susan King, Los Angeles Times
When Marlo Thomas was a teenager, she was always crazy about some boy. "I couldn't wait to go out on dates," says the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning Thomas, who came to fame in 1966 as the struggling actress Ann Marie in the ABC sitcom "That Girl. " "But I would look at my watch and around midnight I'd say, 'I better get home because I don't want to miss the guys.' " "The guys" were her father, comic-actor Danny Thomas, and his cronies, including George Burns, Jan Murray, Milton Berle and Bob Hope, to name just a few. They would congregate with their wives for dinner at Thomas' house in Beverly Hills and spend the evening trying to make each other laugh.
September 21, 2009 | Scott Collins
Even before it was over, Sunday's Emmy Awards on CBS won raves for sprightly pacing, (mostly) classy jokes and emcee Neil Patrick Harris. There were predictable winners -- NBC's "30 Rock" won for the third time as best comedy, AMC's "Mad Men" won again for best drama -- but enough upsets to keep things interesting, including a big nod for Showtime's little-seen comedy "United States of Tara." But there was also a different kind of tension. Harris cheerfully greeted viewers with a Broadway-esque tune that urged them not to channel-surf away from the show or watch it later on DVR. "Don't jump online, 'cause this fine mug of mine needs a huge high-def screen," sang the star of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother."
On the sultry summer morning I turned 40, a package arrived from my mother. Inside was a book sporting a cover photo of a beatific woman in her 40s. Within its pages was her account--and those of many others--about entering life's prime time. These serene and satisfied women--wearing crow's-feet merit badges--told tales of doubts resolved, identities jelled, childish expectations altered. A "rite of passage" they called this day. A chance to transform one's life and rewrite stale scripts.
August 13, 1989
I am not going to watch anymore TV programs with laugh tracks. There's laughter if someone even shuts a door. I'll laugh when I want to laugh. I think they should put the laugh tracks on the evening news when the weathermen are on the air. Phyllis Hager, Los Angeles
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