Strangers With Candy
An acquaintance of mine used to ask me if I ever listened to The Sound of Young America, and I told her I didn't like it. As it turns out, I had it confused with some low-rent internet podcast with a similar name I cannot recall at the moment.
Anyway, Jesse, the fellow who helms Sound of Young America, recently had a couple great interviews with some very funny women. First, he interviewed Anne Beatts, who was the first female editor of National Lampoon, wrote for Saturday Night Live when that show first started, and created Square Pegs. Major TV nerd points to those of you who remember Square Pegs.
Julia mentioned previously that Amy Sedaris would be appearing in a guest role on Andy Barker, P.I. Well, Julia wasn't lying, but you won't see the episode on TV. Instead, click on over to NBC's site to see "The Lady Varnishes," in which Sedaris plays a sex-crazed older woman who spent some time in the slammer. Funny, that sounds an awful lot like her Jerri Blank character from Strangers with Candy. The two characters do share similar traits, but who the heck cares, I'd give my left leg to see Sedaris in anything (and that statement will mean more to you after you've watched the episode).
Tough broads have feelings and faults, but they're nobody's baby. They also don't give a crap what you think of them. They dress for utility not for style, and they work -- usually in domains stereotypically belonging to men.
We'll miss you, Detective Tennison. You are the inspiration for this list of tough TV broads - the ones little girls and little boys can look up to.
(S01E10) Well, kids, this is the finally episode of Strangers with Candy, season one. I hope everyone enjoyed this little trip down memory lane and that you found these reviews to be equal parts informative and arousing. This episode brings everything full circle and Jerri ends up back in prison again by the end, though she informs us she'll be out in time to start school once the summer is over.
At the beginning of the episode, Jerri is elated to learn she's getting a D in history, which means she'll actually be able to pass and move on to her sophomore year. Unfortunately, she befriends a stoner who gets Jerri hooked on pot and she begins to neglect her homework. She also makes a bong out of clay in art class, which Jelineck correctly points out is missing a carb hole. Jelineck tries to persuade his students not to smoke marijuana, telling them he once tried it but that "the only thing it fixed was my life."
(S01E09) This episode begins with Jerri in band practice playing the timpani. Well, she doesn't really play the drums so much as she beats them ferociously. Fed up, Mr. Jelineck kicks her out of band permanently, telling her he'd like to see her "at a quarter after never."
While alone in the bandroom she picks up a violin, and much to her and Mr. Noblet's surprise, she has a natural talent for the instrument. Mr. Noblet takes her under his wing so she can train and win an upcoming music competition, even though she can already play the instrument perfectly. As Noblet explains, "I am the only one who can help you realize my dreams of yours." Strangers with Candy is always packed with that kind of superfluous phrasing, double and triple negatives piled on top of one another, but this episode uses that "trick" quite a bit. That's not a slam against this episode. Quite the contrary, it works perfectly because Noblet is trying to confuse Jerri into thinking he's doing it for her, when in reality he wants to live vicariously through her because he never learned to play violin.
I've seen this episode no less than fifty million times, but I completely missed a very funny gag involving a young Mr. Noblet who comes in from playing baseball ... in a cowboy outfit. That cracked me the heck up. I also loved the violin "duet" between Jerri and Mr. Noblet that played over the end credits.
Mr. Jelineck: Your daughter has a disease we call anorexia.
Sara Blank: Is that contagious?
Mr. Jelineck: Yes. It often sweeps through third world countries that are stricken by drought.
A new character is introduced in this episode: Stew, the Blank's meatman. Basically, he's like a milkman, except he delivers meat. And much like the fabled milkman, he also seems a bit more interested in the lady of the house than he should be. He immediately makes himself at home in the household, taking on the role of "father" even though their real dad is still very much alive, even if he is catatonic.
I'm an insomniac, so I caught the whole marathon. Did anyone else watch?
Fans of Strangers with Candy know that Amy Sedaris based the character of Jerri Blank somewhat on real-life ex-junkie/prostitute Florrie Fisher, the centerpiece of a 1970 documentary titled The Trip Back. The documentary was just one of many television specials created during the 70s and 80s to scare kids silly when it came to drugs, or not scare them at all, depending on how much a rambling middle age woman actually frightens you. I've stuck a clip of Fisher ranting about LSD after the jump, but if you want a little more of her wit and wisdom, click here.
[via The Hater]
Mr. Noblet (after showing his class a tape of Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech): King's dream was of an America without racism of any kind. The tragedy of course is that all this footage is in black and white. Imagine how powerful it would have been in color.
In this episode, a student spray paints the N-word in the hallway, and all of Flatpoint High is turned upside down as they try to figure out who did it. The easiest humorous route to take would have been to mock those blatantly racist enough to do such a thing, but this episode, like the "Ginger Kids" episode of South Park, cuts much deeper, exposing the varying degrees of prejudice that exist in all of us. Or, as one student says, "The only thing we hate more than a racist is spics."
Video after the jump!
The television series Strangers with Candy was one of the tightest, most cohesive comedies to come along in the last several years. Its subtle mix of vicious satire, peripheral sight gags, and jokes that sometimes hung in the air for a moment before your brain was able to catch up to them was suited perfectly to the half hour format. In addition, the main cast (Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, and Craig Hollimon) are all great comedic actors who played together like veteran jazz musicians, each adding his or her own unique personality to the whole. But can something that worked so well on television make the transition to the big screen and still be just as good? The answer is yes, sort of.
Strangers with Candy the movie serves as a prequel to the television series which ran on Comedy Central in the late 90s. Fans of the series know the story: Jerri Blank ran away from home thirty-two years ago to delve into prostitution and copious amounts of drugs. After being released from a stint in prison, she decides to return home to start her life over again as a 46 year old high school freshman. In the movie, Jerri returns to find her father (this time played by Dan Hedaya rather than Roberto Gari*) is in a stress-induced comma caused by the sudden disappearance of his beloved daughter all those years ago. The doctor tells Jerri that if she were able to do something truly amazing, say, win the school science fair, it might help her father to wake up.
Orlando (Jerri's Filipino friend): You should run for Homecoming queen, Jerri.
Jerri: What? Are you joking? I don't think I'm what boys consider a "traditional beauty."
Orlando: In my country you'd be a real queen.
Jerri: Yeah, well, that's because your country is ruled by monkeys.
Orlando: Jerri, that's an ugly thing to say.
Jerri: Jeez, why are you people so sensitive about your resemblance to monkeys? They're adorable!
This episode begins with a game of dodgeball and Jerri having to sit out the game because of uneven teams. Also, it seems her teammates would rather have a slow girl with two broken arms play with them rather than Jerri. Despite not actually playing, Jerri manages to get hit with the ball, prompting Yasmine, a popular girl, to remark that Jerri is probably used to balls smacking against her face.
Principal Blackman: Talk your monkey ass off. I'll be watching you.
This episode, in which Jerri comes face to face with her long lost son (though she doesn't realize it until the end of the episode) was co-written by Tom Lennon of The State and Reno 911!
This episode starts off, as all the season one episodes do, with Jerri explaining who she is and why she's in her forties and attending high school. She tells her tale to a ficus she's inexplicable planted in the middle of a baseball diamond (it's an Arbor Day thing). Meanwhile, it's also almost time for the Sadie Hawkins Dance, which, as many of you may know, is when girls have to ask the boys to the dance instead of vice versa. Her friend Orlando begins to drop some not so subtle hints that he'd like to go with her, but Jerri finds herself attracted to the new student, Ricky, played by Frederick Koehler (a.k.a. "Chip" from Kate and Allie). Jerri likes Ricky but she can't let anyone know because Ricky is hated by everyone, including the teachers, simply because he's new. When he first arrives in Noblet's class, Noblet doesn't give him a desk but instead makes him sit in the back on a box of slightly irregular jeans. Jerri tries to maintain a friendship with Ricky while also maintaining her status among her peers, such as one scene where she uses a tire iron to smash his car to impress her friends, all the while insisting to Ricky she really does like him.
Jerri (reading her poem in class): When you work from your home, and John's callin' the phone, you're a call girl / When you walk 'til you limp, and give a cut to a pimp, you're a street whore / When their beggin' you please, to get down on your knees, near their groinage / 'scuse a me, don't you see, don't you touch where they pee, without coinage --
Mr. Noblet: Thank you Jerri, that'll be --
Jerri: When I straddle and squat, to show you my--
Mr. Noblet: All right Jerri...
(S01E03) I don't think there was ever a bad episode of Strangers with Candy, but if someone were to put a gun to my head and force me to name my least favorite episode, it would probably be this one. I think my main problem with it was actor Jacob Pitts, who plays "Craig Snow" in this episode. While I'm sure Pitts is a fine actor in his own right, he didn't seem to jibe with the cast the way their other guest stars tend to do. Strangers exists in its own weird universe, and one of the great things about the series is that everyone who is in it, whether it be the main characters or side characters, understands the pacing and rhythm, and their performances are pitch perfect. However, like any great jazz combo, you toss in one mediocre trombone player and everything starts to seem a little off.
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