LIVE: Madonna

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madonna guitar.jpg

This week I attended my first ever Madonna concert. I’d be lying if I told you I had a Madonna poster hanging in my bedroom or her latest album cover as the screen saver on my computer. But because Madonna is an important figure in both music and pop-cultural history, not to mention one of the last mega-pop-stars performing at a mega-pop-star level, I felt it was my duty to witness a live Madonna show before my concert-reviewing skills diminish or Madonna’s legs give out.

(left: Madonna rockin’ out on her “Sweet and Sticky” Tour.)

What better place to witness my first Madonna show than Madison Square Garden? Not only does she love New York (double check her Confessions On A Dance Floor album), but this is the city where the Material Girl became the Material Girl. Only in New York City could a dance-lovin’, guitar totin’ nobody, become the world’s greatest pop-music somebody.

With three huge video screens on stage, two huge video screens hanging next to the stage, and a spherical video screen that descended from the ceiling onto the catwalk, I knew I wasn’t about to see a concert, I was going to see a SHOW!

For Madonna’s intro, the collection of video screens followed the journey of a candy ball down many shoots and slides. With industrial thumps and booms providing the build-up music, I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s the toughest pink jawbreaker I’ve ever seen.” As the candy rolled, and the tension built, the video screens opened up, and there she was–MADONNA–sprawled out on a throne looking like she didn’t give a shit, while knowing damn well that everyone in attendance knew otherwise.

Because the last handful of concerts I’ve attended have been low-key, indie affairs, I didn’t know where to direct my attention. Amidst dancers in elaborate wardrobe, video screens, high-definition graphics, and laser lights, I decided to focus solely on Madonna (taking a peek at one of the video screens when I needed a closer look).

From the get-go, Madonna went full-throttle. I’m sure many fans in attendance were impressed by her costume designs and dance choreography, but I was most amazed by her athleticism. How does a 50-year old mother of three have so much freakin’ energy! When Madonna wasn’t dancing, she was jump roping (double-dutch no less), and never slipped up once. After she jump-roped, she decided to jump-rope some more, even throwing in some Rocky Balboa crossovers. I was getting sore just watching.

I was certain there would be lengthy stop-downs for Madonna to catch her breath, but even when she did leave the stage to change wardrobe it didn’t seem like she was gone for long. Ladies and gentleman, the show did not stop!

Biggest Surprise of the Night:
Because I’m not part of the Madonna Fan Club (sorry Iconers), I expected myself to crave the big Madonna hits instead of new material from Hard Candy. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the more recent stuff like “Beat Goes On,” “She’s Not Me,” and “Miles Away.” If MTV still ruled the world like it did back in Madonna’s heyday, I feel like all of these would be considerable mainstream hits.

One of the Perks of Being Madonna:
When you have a deep catalog of hits like Madonna does, you can use it at your disposal for various transitional elements. Though she didn’t perform the songs live, “Die Another Day” and “Rain” were used as interludes during the show, and at the end of the night, “Holiday” was played over the P.A. system as everyone left the building singing along to the song.

madonna track shorts.jpg

Wardrobe Highlight:
What can I say, I’m a sucker for short track shorts and knee-high party socks.

Wardrobe Lowlight:
Madonna getting her Twisted Sister on with a pair of shoulder-pads and a frizzy wig with bangs. Why look like Dee Snider, when you already look like Madonna?

Best Line of Stage Banter:
Madonna didn’t banter that often, but at one point in the show she told the crowd that everyone was at her dance party, continuing with, “You know who’s not invited? Sarah fuckin’ Palin! I love her soul, but she’s got to stop winking. It’s freakin’ me out.”

Politics, Politics, Politics
There was a mini-controversy–at least on the internet–about one of Madonna’s video montages that featured both Hitler and John McCain. After seeing it live, I didn’t find it very offensive at all, considering the montage was broken up into three different sections: 1.) All-time, bad-guy hate mongers, 2.) Current political “bad boys,” and 3.) Visionaries of hope. Honestly, I was more offended that Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey were in the same montage as Mother Theresa. No diss on Bill or Oprah, but Mother Theresa never had a billion-dollar budget to work with. I was also a little miffed that Barack Obama received a louder ovation than Martin Luther King, Jr. did.

Most Beautiful-Looking Part of the Show:
I’m sure many may say that Madonna’s block of Latin American styled songs (with brightly colored Latin American-inspired wardrobe), which included Evita’s, “You Must Love Me,” was the prettiest part of the show, but I would argue that her performance on top of a grand piano during, “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You,” was the best-looking moment of the night. Dressed in a black cloak, Madonna performed the tune while being engulfed by the spherical video screen featuring a sequence of splashing water.

Highlight of the Show:
Late in Madonna’s set she performed her most recent hit “4 Minutes,” followed by raved-up, bass-pounding versions of “Like A Prayer” and “Ray Of Light.” This 3-song dance party sent me into another dimension. I felt like I was at a rave, trading off power-moves with Troy “Smooth” Mouer (circa 1996)!

Not So Highlight of the Night:
A few times during the show, Madonna would take center stage with a guitar. Though she wasn’t doing any serious riffing, she did strum some power-chords while reworking a couple of her hits. The guitar-treatment worked best with the punked-out, big-rock interpretation of “Borderline” and didn’t seem to interfere with “Ray of Light.” However, it didn’t translate so well on the rock makeover of “Hung Up” (let’s face it, that little Abba sample drives the song).

Because “Hung Up” is one of my favorite dance tracks of the last few years, I’d much rather see Madonna shake her thang than play bar-chords. Fortunately, the party picked back up when Madonna closed with “Give It 2 Me.”

Sticky & Sweet Set-List:
Intro/Candy Shop

Beat Goes On

Human Nature

Video Interlude – Die Another Day

Into The Groove



She’s Not Me

Video Interlude – Rain/Here Comes The Rain Again

Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You

Spanish Lesson

Miles Away

La Isla Bonita/Lela Pala Tute
Doli Doli (Live interlude – Romanian folk song)

You Must Love Me
Video Interlude – Get Stupid 

4 Minutes

Like A Prayer

Ray Of Light

Hung Up

Give It 2 Me (Finale)

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Back to Work

How the Comedy Bang! Bang! Crew Spent Their Break

Watch the final season of Comedy Bang! Bang! Fridays at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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Comedy Bang! Bang! is finally back this Friday October 28th at 11P. Even though the show has been on break, the cast and crew have stayed very busy. After ensuring each of CBB’s final episodes will be the best yet and kissing each other goodbye, the Comedy Bang! Bang! family left the studio to try some new things. Catch up with what the CB!B! cast and crew have been up to during the break and then make sure you watch back-to-back episodes every Friday on IFC.

“Weird Al”

Weird Al keyboard
“Weird Al” Yankovic is probably best known as the Comedy Bang! Bang! co-host and bandleader. But, apparently he’s also a musical parodist and comedy icon. While season 5 has been on break, he’s been busy with a cross-country live tour. His live performances continue after the Comedy Bang! Bang! premiere with a headlining gig at Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme.

Scott Aukerman

Scott Aukerman is the Comedy Bang! Bang! host with the most. He’s also the host with the most jobs. According to the show’s IMDB trivia page, Scott stays busy with a podcast that has the same name as the TV show. He’s also a producer of multiple TV shows on SeeSo and recently helped his famous friend Zach Galifianakis interview Hillary Clinton.

Neil Campbell

When Comedy Bang! Bang! is in full swing Neil Campbell is busy writing Emmy-caliber puns and keeping the time as fan-favorite Maxwell Keeper. But given a short break he’s made the leap to guest starring on (and writing for) Fox’s cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It’s a classic cop swap.

Slow Joey

Slow Joey glue
Slow Joey is usually busy on set being one of Scott Aukerman’s best friends and playing his favorite game Caves and Chameleons. But did you know he’s also Hollywood actor Haley Joel Osment? He is.

Mike Hanford

CBB John Lennon
Mike Hanford is both a writer for Comedy Bang! Bang! behind the scenes and Mike the Boom Operator on the screen—but also kind of behind the scenes. While CB!B! was on break, Mike helped Comedy Bang! Bang! go international with the live CBB tour in Australia and Great Britain. He’s never been seen in the same room as John Lennon.

Sir Couchley

CBB Sir Couchley
Sir Couchley, the Comedy Bang! Bang! couch who occasionally talks, has been waiting patiently for new celebrity guests to sit on his plush cushions.

Get ready to say Comedy Bye! Bye! and watch the final season of Comedy Bang! Bang! Fridays at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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