Low Key

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Joker, 'The Twilight Zone,' and Sad-Sack Standup Comedy

Season 1, Ep. 27

This episode of "Low Key" is about the dark side of comedy. We all know laughter eases pain, but we don't talk so much about the acute pain of failing to make people laugh.


The first episode of Jordan Peele's revived "The Twilight Zone," starring Kumail Nanjiani as a standup comic who will do anything to succeed, perfectly captures the agony of speaking into a mic to a crowd of people who refuse to laugh.


And the new teaser for Todd Phillips' "The Joker" drives home how depressing it is to try to be funny. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as a clown by day and comedian by night who isn't doing well in either job.


We also talk about whether "The Twilight Zone" lost something when CBS All Access doubled its half-hour, 1950s running time to an hour for Peele's revival. And whether the Joker loses some of his menacing mystery when we learn his his life story.


Also: Aaron wonders why white people keep approaching dangerous animals at the zoo.




More Episodes

7/23/2020

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado

Season 1, Ep. 70
In this episode we explore Netflix's Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado, about a Puerto Rican TV astrologer who rose from humble beginnings to become a sequin-caped inspiration to millions.With his distinctive look, aura of mystery — especially about his sexuality — and ability to blend many religious beliefs into a medley of optimism, Walter Mercado gave hope to the hopeless — until an ugly legal dispute yanked him from the air and cost him control of his own carefully cultivated image.:45: Our late-night infomercial memories3:00: Is the Michael Jordan-approved The Last Dance real journalism? Is Walter Mercado getting the Michael Jordan treatment?5:45: "Celebrities nowadays are derivatives of celebrities back in the day."5:50: How Walter Mercado was like Michael Jackson and Prince7:05: About that psychic phone line...7:50: How is Walter Mercado different from a televangelist?8:50: "You just can't swindle a swindler"10:00: Let's talk about Walter Mercado and his manager's relationship11:45: Zodiac signs12:40: "What's the difference between a Walter Mercado and a Tony Robbins?"15:00: Tim has the same religious beliefs as Walter Mercado: "No one has a monopoly on God"18:00: "He had a much better life than most people have"24:00: A Billy Dee Williams story (and here's the background on the gender-fluid story)27:00: Another excellent famous-person story30:55: "The only person I ever saw solve racism was Prince"31:50: "Netflix, again, coming through on the diversity point before it was fucking cool. ... They've been on this train."33:15: Netflix's $120 million donation to HCBUs36:00: "I have an appreciation for any man that dresses up like a wizard"Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado is now streaming on Netflix.