Friday, May 4, 2018

Cassette Review:
Johnny Pemberton
"Recorded For Quality Assurance"
(SBI Press)

When I went on Twitter to tell Johnny Pemberton that he was that new rapper Hobo Johnson I didn't expect to find a link to a cassette by Johnny Pemberton.   It's funny to me because for all of the things I know Johnny Pemberton for the two biggest things are a) He showed up in a lot of movies I watched and so whenever I looked him up on IMDb I saw he had an upside profile photo and b) he was in that show "Superstore", in which his character wanted to be a rapper.

There are a lot of things kids who were born after the year 2000 will never know about.  One of the things I always talk about with people that I will miss is making crank phone calls.   In the beginning of the movie "Funny People" a young Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow are doing just that.   From "Crank Yankers" to the Jerky Boys (who were a big deal because they did their phone calls on the radio but then had them released on cassettes too) there is a rich history in prank phone calls but it all kind of got killed by caller i.d.

What do you do when you get a call from a number you don't recognize?  I used to send them to voicemail, but now I put them on speaker phone and let them listen to whatever I am and just try to see how many times the person on the other line says "Hello? Hello?" before giving up (and see how long they stay on the line) But if you don't leave me a voicemail, you might as well not even call me.  And some people don't even return voicemail messages.    So I feel being ignored/blocked would also be a large obstacle to overcome in this day and age.

The answer to how one can create such phone calls comes down to two factors: some people have a job where they must talk to you on the phone and be polite (customer service) so they have to kind of tolerate your nonsense and can't just hang up on you and the other people who seem to participate in this are just bored.  Johnny Pemberton calls a variety of people but most of them seem to be in that field of customer service (Yes, even the strip club) where they have to do their best to assist you out of fear of losing their job.  There is a woman though who just seems bored as she goes on and on about her cat while trying not to die.

These calls made me laugh, which I believe is their intended purpose and so in that sense they have succeeded, but I also feel weird when listening to them because sometimes I feel like the exchanges between the two people- having these sort of jokes and such- I feel like are things which have happened with me in the past.   You just get those glimpses into every day life, where people in customer service think they can be the next... Ugh... Who's a modern comedian anyway?  (That's *another* story)

Usually operating under the name Kevin, Pemberton also sings along with the hold music and makes little songs out of those portions of the calls which I believe is what they call vaporwave.   I'm not sure why but my favorite call out of all of them is when he calls about the shampoo because it just goes to this odd place when the woman begins describing her own hair and life.   Though there is also a call where someone actually calls him and that is a reason why I would not want to cold call people these days (Though it could get quite entertaining)

When I think about funny movies- movies I can watch an infinite number of times and never get sick of them, I think of classics.   Most of them are from prior to the 21st Century even.   I mean, when was the last time you saw a straight up comedy like "The Jerk" or "Uncle Buck" or "Billy Madison" or even back to the days of Peter Sellers?  Because, to me, Kevin Hart and Kevin James aren't cutting it.   But with memes and other things you have to think maybe that's why.  Maybe movies have lost that something special because it's a dead medium now.   Maybe I'm just too old and I've outgrown them.

Whatever the case might be, SBI Press lets you sign up to get cassettes mailed to you once a month and then you get to enjoy them.  It's (mostly) all offline and I really enjoy that as well.  It sticks true to the medium of the cassette.   But I just feel like the idea of "I have this script for a movie" is tired.   There will never be another Gene Wilder.   We must partake in our comedy now on other levels.  Television is still cool, but cassettes certainly feel like something where anyone can do it and they won't be stopped by Hollywood.  This whole thing is kind of what I'm all about right now.

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