Comedic Fragility

You might know Drew Carey from his 10+ years on The Price is Right. Or you might recognize his name from his big break, The Drew Carey Show, which aired from 1995 to 2004. For me, his name brings to mind the nostalgic improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

With great comedians like Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan Stiles, Whose Line Is It Anyway? is an iconic American television show that aired in 1998 featuring Drew Carey as the host. The show experienced a reboot, which is still airing today, with Aisha Tyler as the host and starring the same comedic mainstays of Brady, Mochrie, and Stiles.

With fond memories of laughing through the night, I revisited some of the old episodes from the 90s recently, expecting hilarity and wistfulness. Instead, my most profound emotion was disgust. I usually can’t get through an episode without at least rolling my eyes and at worst, cursing at the screen. My main issue, to be honest, is Carey’s blatant homophobia (we’ll save the racism and misogyny in the show for another rant). During the 90s, it’s likely that few people found this problematic. Hopefully that’s not the case in this day and age as we see things with a lens of awareness that we didn’t have in the 90s.

I found it especially troubling considering Drew Carey’s previous relationship (and brief engagement) to celebrity sex therapist Amie Harwick (who tragically passed away in February 2020). You would think that he would be an open-minded or sexually liberated man. This is apparently not the case – at least when we look back at his former actions.

To be fair, the content I touch on is 20 years old, give or take (depending on the season). I’m not implying that Drew hasn’t – or couldn’t have – changed. He could be looking back at his behavior and self-reflecting and reaching the same conclusions I am right now. Or maybe he already has. Or, maybe he hasn’t. We won’t know unless he tells us.

And now you might be thinking – this was 20 years ago – why does it matter now? Trust me. It matters.

We can’t forget history. And yes, that’s exactly what this is. History doesn’t only exist in outdated textbooks and museums. The media that raised us is cultural history. In looking back we can learn valuable lessons and move forward. If we ignore it, we learn nothing.

So, yeah, this is a half-rant half-analysis about Drew Carey’s behavior on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and why it matters 20 years later. This is gonna be a long one, so you might want to take a seat and get comfortable.

If you’ve ever seen the show, you know that things can get out of hand quickly. If you haven’t, here’s the gist. The general format goes like this: Drew reads a card with a prompt. The comedians follow suit accordingly, improvising a comedic sketch. Sometimes these prompts are rather ridiculous like one that asks Colin to act as a dating contestant who is “having passionate secret affairs with Wayne and Ryan’s shoes but must decide between them.” See how things quickly rise to hilarity?

Working on an improv comedy show together, the comedians do their best to stimulate laughter – in the audience and their cohorts. For these guys, getting someone to break character is a huge comedic success. As a quick aside, the main comedians, Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, and Ryan Stiles, have been working together in this sort of format since the British version of this game aired… which they all starred in before it was reconstituted for a US audience. Their history together presumably solidified a comedic relationship and also provided ample knowledge on how to make each other laugh.

Sometimes, the best ways to startle each other involve kissing, butt-grabbing, or even licking (the face, people, the face). Which in one extreme case was followed by a comedic show of Ryan swallowing an entire can of Altoids that in turn created hilarity when it just about set his mouth afire (well, they are the curiously strong mints).

All the performers have planted a smooch on each other at one time or another (especially Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie).  And all the men on the show seem comfortable enough in their masculinity to touch or kiss another man without “jeopardizing” their sexuality or having their “manhood” called into question. That is, everyone except Drew Carey.

Drew often jumps into the final skit of the episode or manages to get pulled into the performers’ antics before the episode is through whether he wants to be or not. He tries to be a team player, but the fact is that he’s just not as funny or witty as the featured comedians. I think a part of this is that he doesn’t feel comfortable on stage – and it shows. Add to that, he seems to be an insecure man whose toxic masculinity prevents him from unlocking his potential.

Whenever Drew finds himself the target of a kiss or a touch of affection from another performer on Whose Line, his reaction is painfully predictable. He withdraws, and quickly. He literally runs away, and sometimes he removes himself from the skit entirely.

If all else fails, and he’s forced to lock lips with another comedian, he slaps his palm across the other man’s mouth, creating a barrier of “safety” for his lips. Clearly, the social stigma surrounding men kissing infiltrated Drew’s brain.

Okay, so you might say, he just doesn’t like being touched… but this behavior isn’t repeated with female guests or the women they pull from the audience. Just his male colleagues.

Time and again he’s shown that that it’s not just his expected participation that has him rattled. He becomes visibly uncomfortable watching the other comedians get cozy. And he feels the right to voice his discomfort freely.

In one scene, the actors form a sort of dogpile, and in the style of the Whose Line handbook for humor, it gets a bit sexualized. Wayne Brady climbs on top of guest Greg Proops and Drew almost loses it.

Attempting to disguise his disgust with humor (unsuccessfully, I might add), Drew tells Wayne, “the way you straddled Greg there, you almost gave me a heart attack. You guys had – his legs were wrapped around you.” And Wayne explains to him in return “it’s for the scene, dude,” as if it were a reoccurring point of contention between these costars.

Why is Drew so appalled at sexualized male relationships? And you might think well, maybe he’s just a family man, he wants to keep his shows clean. Well, he had no trouble with sexualizing his eccentric female nemesis Mimi Bobeck on The Drew Carey Show. His issue isn’t sexuality – it’s homosexuality. And that’s where the problem is.

Why, for so long, has it been an acceptable opinion that there is something inherently wrong about homosexuality?

And why does this opinion, in media, seem to present specifically towards male homosexuality? Female actresses and comedians aren’t similarly ridiculed as their male counterparts for same-sex affection.  Even in everyday life, it’s deemed more acceptable for women to hug, kiss, or generally touch each other. It means they show affection, give support, or display friendship.

Why is it that men giving each other physical affection causes a stir, turns heads, is labeled (with negative connotations) gay? Don’t get me wrong. I know we live in an increasingly progressive society, but we still have a long way to go. Members of the LGBTQ+ society experience more freedom in America now than ever. But they are also still deeply oppressed. And that’s why we need to talk about it. That’s why we need to talk about Drew Carey on Whose Line and why his comments, actions, and behavior reinforce toxic masculinity, heteronormativity, and homophobia.

What’s so wrong about being gay? What’s so wrong about being straight and kissing another man for improv comedy or any other reason, for that matter? For Drew, he probably can’t name it. It’s probably a feeling of disgust and discomfort in the pit of his stomach (or the depth of his psyche) that tells him: being gay is wrong.

He clearly believes that it’s wrong for other men, and it’s wrong for him. At least in these historical episodes of Whose Line.

News flash. Being gay is okay. In fact, it’s awesome. Being straight is okay. It’s awesome too. Being straight and resisting heteronormativity is necessary. We can’t let ourselves fall into these boxes – these cages – that have been built for us by society.

Relying on social ideas about what makes us a proper man or woman is futile. It makes us insecure in our identities. It forces us to judge others unjustly. If you care too much about not seeming gay, you’ll end up looking like Drew Carey: an unfunny homophobe.

If you want to resist heteronormativity, go your own way. Do what makes you happy. Show love and affection to the people who are important in your life (so long as they consent), regardless of their gender.

Analyze what you feel and why you feel it. If someone makes you uncomfortable because of their sexual preferences, behavior, or looks, think about what that says about YOUR values.

That goes for you too, Drew. I wish that you had overcome your insecurities a long time ago. Whose Line would have been better without your comedic fragility and homophobic commentary.

Ugly Is As Ugly Does

Don’t let that gleam in my eye fool you… this is not going to be the usual, humorous fare you’ve come to know and love here at Musings. I know that I’ve regaled you with the catchphrase “I hate people” often, and perhaps, for a while, it lost the bite it once had. However, reading the news, as it so often does, brought this feeling to the forefront with decided force.

Do you remember the final episode of Seinfeld where the gang, as so-called “innocent” bystanders, were arrested for watching as a man was robbed and abused on the street? Yeah, everyone remembers that one.

Have you ever thought of what drove that episode, though? I’ll tell you what I think. Incidents like the idiots on the subway who sat by and watched as a poor, defenseless 78-year-old woman was kicked repeatedly in the face by a psychopath!

But really, who is the psychopath here? No one called 911. No one intervened. Instead of calling for help or better yet, putting down the cell phones and getting up off your asses to help this poor woman, a bunch of you continued to record the incident, some even went so far as to provide commentary. What is wrong with all of you?? How can this be okay? How can you live with yourselves after watching, while a woman feared for her life and lay there bleeding right in front of you? Didn’t any of your parents teach you better?  Your callous inaction was disgusting, and the fact that you could stand there and watch, while doing absolutely nothing, makes you disgusting.

Oh sure, you could argue that you were gathering “evidence.” Bullshit. I don’t buy it. When everyone is recording, and no one is helping (I’ll repeat an important point that was reported: not a single 911 call was made) … that right there is a sign of a bigger, much uglier, issue in our society.

What if she were your sister or your mother or your grandmother? What would you do then? Would you record someone in your family going through the same experience or would you help? I really want you to consider this, and then explain to me why there is a difference.

Is this what we’ve become as a society? An eager audience to someone else’s suffering? Or has it always been this way? I know the human race – as a general rule – is horrible but come on people! God damn it, get your shit together. We’re all in this world together and we can’t keep doing this to each other.

Get up, rise up, and speak up! Offer assistance when needed, give up your seat to stand up for others, be kind. Put down the camera and forego the viral footage in favor of nabbing the bad guy, not on tape but in real life… even if that just means calling 911. For God’s sake think of someone else sometimes, especially in pivotal moments when your action, your voice, can make a difference. Do the right fucking thing.

Okay, rant over. I need a drink.

Judge Not… Well, You Know the Drill

I’ve really been trying to control how often I use this blog as a soapbox to wag fingers at others (okay, so I haven’t been trying that hard). When I read this article my annoyance meter kicked on and I knew it was time to dust off the old ‘box’. Oh come on, don’t roll your eyes at me! I have a good reason, this time, I swear.

If you can’t open the link, here’s the gist: A mom was carrying her five-year old daughter in a baby carrier on her back. The manager of the store they were in snapped a photo, posted it on Facebook, and used the social media platform to shame the mom for allowing the kid to be in the carrier. The mom found out and all hell broke loose.

As a mom, here’s my perspective. I’ve been to the mall with my kids and guess what? They get tired. Shocking, I know. So what do you do? There are two options: 1) listen to your kid complaining and throwing mini tantrums because they’re in no mood to walk or 2) keep ‘em quiet by hoisting them up. Both options depend on your own sanity level.

Sometimes a parent is in zero mood to hear the tiny rants coming from their precious child. So we’ll gladly carry them, even up to the age of 5 (if we’re strong enough), just to zip those lips. But sometimes a parent has enough patience in the tank to teach the kid a life lesson about bucking up and getting through the tough times. That’s when we can take the crocodile tears and trembling lips and keep the kid putting one foot in front of the other. There is a third option in which no one wins. You throw in the towel, head to the car, and retreat home trying to convince yourself you didn’t really want to go shopping anyway.

I’m saying this and admittedly I’m old school. Those carrier things like the woman in the article had didn’t even exist when I was a mom to toddlers (not that the kid in the photo was a toddler). I just held them in my arm, pressed against my hip. Having one of those carriers would’ve been a godsend. Of course the mom is going to use that handy-dandy carrier when her kid’s not feeling well or simply to shut the kid up. It seems like a no brainer.

The idea that someone else would publicly humiliate a mom for doing something that benefits both her child’s comfort and her own sanity is beyond me. So what if the kid is older? It’s not like she was in Middle School for god’s sake. Now that would’ve been worrisome. So what if it’s not what you would do as a parent (speaking to the store manager and the complainers here)? That kid isn’t yours. So why do you even care?

And did I miss the memo that it’s no longer super creepy to lurk and take photos of other people, especially children, in public and post them online? Is this okay now? I mean, I understand if you’re trying to out someone for stealing or doing something truly nefarious, but carrying your kid on your back? Or (gasp!) breastfeeding in public? You can go viral from that?!? Sadly, apparently so.

All in all, it’s just sad that our society has stooped to these levels. Just because we can do certain things now thanks to the internet and technology doesn’t mean we should. I think this is a morality line people forget or altogether neglect to consider. Or maybe it’s worse than I think. Maybe people nowadays simply just don’t care about that morality line in the first place.

Upside Down World

I’m a little behind. Okay, way behind.  This article about the Senate voting on human involvement in climate change is from January but I just saw it a couple of days ago and have to say something about it. You know me.  Never one to keep my mouth shut on things like this. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind on the issue, but I have my viewpoints and one of them was so strongly challenged from a place I least expected it that it sort of took my breath away.

Per the article:

The Chairman of the Environment Committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the “biggest hoax” perpetrated against mankind.

“The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,” Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Man can’t change the climate.”

Please keep in mind people, this is the CHAIRMAN OF THE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE saying this. That’s like the Executive Director of General Motors saying that cars aren’t actually faster than walking. It’s all been a hoax. You’ve just been fooled this whole time into purchasing these wildly expensive newfangled contraptions that you never really needed.

I’m sorry but isn’t there a little something called scientific evidence that supports the fact that the climate has gone through a more radical change than Jekyll and Hyde over the past century or so.  Has Inhofe never heard of that somewhat monumental historical event known as the Industrial Revolution? Heck, the impact of that period sure enough changed the course of evolution, just ask the peppered moth.  I’m pretty sure pumping out loads and loads of contaminants into the atmosphere for decades on end has had the power to make some alterations to the weather patterns.

Only five Republicans joined the Dems in the belief that humans have contributed to climate change and that’s fine. Republicans have their beliefs and I do my best to respect them. I try not to ask for too much from my government (cause seriously, it’s the government after all), but it’d be really, really nice if the Head of the Environment Committee could actually believe in science or at the very least just listen to other people with scientific degrees who might perhaps know a bit more about the whole issue than he does…you know, those people with tons of letters after their names who work for little known firms like NASA and NOAA, among others.  Just saying.