Madonna’s stand-up on Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon: Rest in Peace, Comedy

By | April 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm | 17 comments | feature slider, Features, Opinion | Tags: , , , ,

You work your whole life trying to perfect what you do, overcoming hurdles and obstacles, wending your way through the intrinsically byzantine labyrinth of the industry surrounding your passion. Then one day, the gate keepers who purport to uphold the standards and quality to which you aspire – to which you have been aspiring your entire life – lower their escutcheons. They let through someone who has never spent a minute doing what you have bled, sweat and cried tens of millions of minutes doing. They create a mockery of all you hold dear.

Yes, I’m talking about Madonna attempting to do stand-up comedy on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Had it been on any other show, it would still represent a brutal beatdown of your dreams and hopes. But The Tonight Show? For ages, The Tonight Show was the holy grail for stand-ups. It launched careers and made stars. Today, even with the plethora of other television opportunities on myriad networks drastically reducing the impact a single appearance on Tonight once had, it remains a grand feather in the cap of those who appear on it. This was nothing short of a betrayal.

After chatting with host Jimmy Fallon about wanting to try comedy, Madonna was then given the opportunity to indulge her whims. Fallon even had a microphone with a stand set up in the middle of his stage, as he would when a legitimate comedian performs, and introduced Madonna, who was then waiting behind the curtain.

What happened next, as the internet likes to say, will blow your mind. The Material Girl came out and hemmed and hawed her way through what seemed like an eternity before attempting a punchline. She stumbled her way through a dick joke then cussed. She drew tepid giggles, but more of the variety you’ll hear when grandma twerks at Thanksgiving dinner and does a Señor Wences impression with her lady parts.

Clearly, this had been set up in advance: the staged lead-in conversation and the mic at the ready. So why not take the time to prep her better? Why not hire writers? Why not NOT do it?

By her own admission in her song, “American Life,” Madonna has a lawyer, a manager, an agent, a chef, three nannies, an assistant, a driver, a jet, a trainer, a bodyguard (or five), a gardener and a stylist. Do you think she’s satisfied? No.

And so she did what she wanted to do. And the machine bent over backwards for her, even if it meant desecrating and disrespecting the art on which the foundation for late night television was laid. And the public’s perception of stand-up was damaged even further. And when people asked me when I’m going to get a real job, despite my making a living at it, they were right all along.

Much like Madonna in “American Life,” I just realized nothing is what it seems.

When a billionaire 57-year-old singer, dressed as if Twiki from Buck Rogers had taken to walking the streets for money, can trot out to center stage on the greatest showcase for stand-up there is and, having no prior experience, proceed to painfully butcher three minutes of valuable television time, there is no true appreciation for what I do.

One day, Don McLean will write a sequel to “American Pie” about the day that comedy died. This is that day.

I’ve been a fool on a Quixotic quest, spending my life tilting at the windmill of stand-up. It is time to retire to the countryside and become a shepherd.

Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author

Paul Ogata

Paul is an internationally headlining stand-up comedian who's been seen on the Showtime presentation of “Pacific Rim Comedy” currently airing in rotation on the cable network. Paul has also been featured on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” the syndicated “Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen” and co-stars in the underground hit motion picture, “Porndogs” with adult-movie legends Ron Jeremy, Tera Patrick and the late Marilyn Chambers. He has also appeared in Damon Wayans’ film “Behind the Smile” on CBS’ “The Late Late Show” as well as on TBS, NBC and PBS. Paul’s first live CD, Paul Ogata Stands Up, Live in Hong Kong,” is available now on the comedy label New Wave Dynamics.

  • Savage Brit

    It was an experiment, unexpected and therefore interesting.

  • Phil Johnson

    Oof, that was painful. But I’m going to try “Don’t pull me off! I have more jokes.” when I get on there. I see Paul’s point in the article. But it was obviously a stunt. I’d be more offended if she showed up at the Comedy Store and started bumping people.

  • Scott

    …I think the whole point of this was “let’s see what happens when a random celebrity tries something out of their element” and not a legitimate attempt at launching a career in stand-up comedy for Madonna. It was bad stand-up (and I think that’s part of the point) but it made for interesting television. I honestly didn’t think this post was serious but reading through the comments I suppose it was. I would have thought a comedian would have appreciated the stunt since it showcases that stand-up comedy is hard and is a legitimate performing skill that takes talent and practice, but hey, what do I know?

  • Jen

    In my opinion the only person madonna harmed with her stand up comedy was herself. I mean it was just cringeworthy to watch. Besides, with her get up and trying to look 20, she’s turning into a caricature of herself.
    I say ignore her!

  • Gary_Middleton

    The fact that she did not hire writers is what made it real. It looked like a real first set at an open mic. That was pretty cool.

    Sorry the author is just waking up to the fact that really famous people can try a lot of things on widely viewed stages. Madonna can do comedy and Conan O’Brien can sing and play guitar. Shake it off.

    • Laughspin

      Conan’s been playing guitar for decades. It’s like Kevin Bacon. He played guitar and wrote music before he was famous. And now that he’s famous it’s like, “Oh, Kevin Bacon plays guitar now?” No, he always has. Same with Conan. That’s the different between Madonna and Conan. And for that matter, same thing goes for celebs like Metta World Peace and Charlie Sheen who thought they can try stand-up comedy.

      • Gary_Middleton

        I’m sure Madonna has been making jokes for decades. Conan is not a professional guitarist, she is not a professional comedian. When they bring their non-specialty to the stage, they are doing it purely through the power of their fame and they are doing it at levels many order of magnitudes below the pros who get there on merit. And it’s fine.

        Comedy goes on, music goes on.

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  • Jason Wayne

    You need to get laid dude. That’s the problem with comedy. Loser dudes who hate women. What do you think Madonna was taking your spot? I’ve seen endless bad comedians sing songs badly, you think she gives a shit?

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  • TrainerBra

    As I always said, with young men, you get what you “pay” for….!

  • Gnarlodious

    I thought that was pretty funny, and she danced the whole time. But what’s wrong with her teeth?

  • Dwy

    She was funny. Doing the basic comedian degrading tenmselves. Everyone is an elitist critic and in comedy you should be least critical … Lighten up and do want comedy is supposed to do … Laugh

  • Glenn

    Come on man, you are being way too sensitive.

    If she wants to try something so be it, it’s not like they took a random person off the street and gave them a chance over a comic. This woman is extremely talented and has “bled, sweat, and cried” getting to where she has gotten WAY more than you have. Thats unarguable.

    You’re mentality is elitist and small minded and is the kind of mindset that holds back cultures of all kinds.

    I wish this website would write the latest in comedy news not opinion pieces that typically celebrate the underdogs and cut up the champions. Its corny. Its hack. It’s immature. It’s worse than Madonna’s comedy set.

    Sorry man, I don’t mean to offend you but I have to be honest. You guys need to toughen up.

    – G

    • Jason Wayne

      Thank God. I feel like I’ve been defending the old legacy of this site on my own for months. It’s all these terribly retarded hipster college kids. They spout progressive points and pander to nerds and somehow think that qualifies as good journalism or comedy. They only seem to support people who look like them rather than report comedy news and can’t see how that’s bigotry. I think it’s the result of No Child Left Behind. No one told the dummys they were dumb.

  • GrapeApe

    Jesus, stop dressing like that

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