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Episode 124 — Half-a-SWARM


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#1 July Diaz

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 10:52 PM

Andy Secunda, Mike Delaney, and Sean Conroy are at it again on this week’s improv4humans with Matt Besser! Tune in as half of the legendary team, The Swarm, discuss getting waffle boxed, the kind of friend you want on your death bed, and a de-cluttered Oscar the Grouch. Plus, they dissect several hilarious Crap on Youtubes, analyze some non-indigenous snowballs, and finally figure out--once and for all--who shit in the family bible. Make sure to get the UCB Comedy Improv Manual at http://ucbstore.com/...visation-manual, Matt Besser’s new comedy album at mattbesser.com, and Dragoon’s new album at dragoongalaxy.bandcamp.com! Check out Improv4humans at SXSW and the Chicago Improv Festival!

#2 PuncturedJesus

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 11:05 PM

I'm so happy Sean Conroy has been appearing so frequently lately. I really missed him being on here (roughly) once a month. Such a team player.

#3 Alexbn1

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 09:29 AM

Great to hear the half of the swarm, as I never got a chance to see them live here in NYC. I listen to this podcast every week, I also have great respect for Matt, so here's my rant.

Re: Spike Lee's Gentrification Rant - I think there's some notions to dispel Besser's assingation that Spike's POV is distilled to, "I'm mad because it used to be worse, and now it's better?" There are ways to factually substantiate Spike's claims in Brooklyn, (quick google search about the urbanization and institutional racism, how that manifests in white people/non whites as unconscious racism). Spike Lee definitely has said many inflammatory and offensive things, but I think he's articulating systemic institutional oppression as he has seen it for many years. Moreover, as he referenced Buggin out's smudged shoe, it encapsulated and visually articulated a feeling that is difficult to quantify (co-optation of neighborhood's and general lack of awareness by gentrifiers). certainly present in these neighborhoods and harbor's resentment. I agree with Delaney's notion that it shouldn't be contingent on race to "clean up" a neighborhood, but unfortunately that can be substantiated by data and institutional racism is never truly explicit. My wife can attest to that having been a life long New Yorker.

I've been improvising for a few years under UCB and I'll preface that I've experienced real joy improvising, unfortunately, there appears to be a pervasive tone deaf perspective when it comes to socioeconomics and race in NYC, (especially by those in the improv community) and this is coming from someone who is by definition a white male gentrifier and reluctantly so (I live in Bed Stuy, we want to have chlldren and more space, the rising rent pushes people into these neighborhoods). Also, be careful codifying a beloved Sesame street character as a black man who sleeps with all multi-ethnic women once he's extracted from the trash world he used to love, there's a real negative assignation of race in that depiction. I know I'm fired up about this, but I figured Matt would at least appreciate someone having an opinion on the matter. Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow is a great entry into obtaining some further knowledge about this subject (i.e. Institutional Racism), if there's a lack of clarity on why Spike holds his opinions, I apologize if this comes off as patronizing but I don't intend it to, Improv's been a really important part of my life, I'm just trying to open the discussion up.

-Alex

#4 Matt Besser

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 10:03 AM

I agreed with everything Spike said and I've heard it many times before. Who hasn't? His rant seemed hilariously unfocused to me so it came off, in a comedic way, like what he said could be boiled down to he'd rather the garbage still not be picked up. To me he stated some obvious social trends but I didn't hear any solutions. So should white people not walk their dogs? Who exactly is he mad at? The current mayor is pretty damn liberal. As a result of listening to his rant what would Spike like the listener to do? I think most white people who move to Brooklyn know that not as many white people used to live there and everything used to be shittier. So beyond being aware, what are they supposed to do? Not move there? And, we certainly weren't thinking of Oscar the Grouch as being a black man. His connection came from the garbage.

#5 Alexbn1

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 10:45 AM

Matt,

Thanks for responding first off, I absolutely agree you could glean that unfocused ire into a premise, without question because he was seemingly directing his anger towards ( white people walking dogs, et all) I think the macro issue he speaks to is like Andy said, a cultural oppression. When you mean shittier, in what terms exactly? As a city providing services, absolutely. As a community with families growing up and being a tight knit neighborhood, that to me is a whole other thing. So that's more to the point of what I'm stating, there are unconscious and non explicit social cues that white/non white gentrifiers fail to recognize that are signifiers in what Spike is saying, that don't seem to offer up answers, but like the war on drugs, people look for explicit answers to systemic issues and that is not the way assess it in my view. Raising consciousness is the first step to intercultural assessment and engaging the communities so, I don't think he's necessarily that off. Also with Oscar, I may have misread so my apologies.

#6 Memphish_Boognish

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 01:12 PM

I got my youtube clip on the show!

#7 Inner G'

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 03:58 PM

View PostMatt Besser, on 13 March 2014 - 10:03 AM, said:

I agreed with everything Spike said and I've heard it many times before. Who hasn't? His rant seemed hilariously unfocused to me so it came off, in a comedic way, like what he said could be boiled down to he'd rather the garbage still not be picked up. To me he stated some obvious social trends but I didn't hear any solutions. So should white people not walk their dogs? Who exactly is he mad at? The current mayor is pretty damn liberal. As a result of listening to his rant what would Spike like the listener to do? I think most white people who move to Brooklyn know that not as many white people used to live there and everything used to be shittier. So beyond being aware, what are they supposed to do? Not move there? And, we certainly weren't thinking of Oscar the Grouch as being a black man. His connection came from the garbage.


I mean...couldn't it be perceived that Spike was being prejudiced towards white people? I think it was best said on the show, he didn't just want things to be better for everyone, he just wanted white people out. That was probably the most telling thing in his rant.
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#8 DubipR

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 04:43 PM

I'm glad that my posting of Spike Lee's rant made from dialogue somehow to make some comedy.

Disjointed in his ramblings were, it made for interesting talk. Thanks for giving the clip a shot, Matt & crew...

-R

#9 somethingdumb

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 10:19 PM

View PostMatt Besser, on 13 March 2014 - 10:03 AM, said:

I agreed with everything Spike said and I've heard it many times before. Who hasn't? His rant seemed hilariously unfocused to me so it came off, in a comedic way, like what he said could be boiled down to he'd rather the garbage still not be picked up. To me he stated some obvious social trends but I didn't hear any solutions. So should white people not walk their dogs? Who exactly is he mad at? The current mayor is pretty damn liberal. As a result of listening to his rant what would Spike like the listener to do? I think most white people who move to Brooklyn know that not as many white people used to live there and everything used to be shittier. So beyond being aware, what are they supposed to do? Not move there?

I think Spike was calling for 2 things:
Mainly: awareness and respect for a culture/people who historically are oppressed and told their culture is illegitimate/lesser.
Secondly: awareness that there's a broken institution and a call/desire for that institution to be fixed, to stop only caring about white neighborhoods, to care about everything, and to (like the gentrifiers) be aware and respectful of those cultures who're already there.
Respect for different cultures is the realest solution you can give, especially if that respect runs deep enough to hit 'the system'

View PosthugLife, on 13 March 2014 - 03:58 PM, said:


I mean...couldn't it be perceived that Spike was being prejudiced towards white people? I think it was best said on the show, he didn't just want things to be better for everyone, he just wanted white people out. That was probably the most telling thing in his rant.

No no no no no a million times no that's not a thing dont be stupid
edit: I just want to reiterate that racism against whites (or: reverse racism) is not a thing. It's crazy. Your implication that he 'just wanted white people out' is terrible.
They came into a black neighborhood: fine. nothing wrong with that
But then: they, with a total lack of awareness, trod upon their culture. That's bad.
And then: because more white people are there, it becomes a "nicer neighborhood", and rent goes up. That's bad.
And THEN: Some of the lower income black families are forced to move from their homes, more white people come in, and after years of struggle to improve their situation, neighborhood, etc, it's ONLY WHEN THEY LEAVE THAT THE INSTITUTION STARTS CLEANING THE PLACE UP

And you get mad at Spike because he said fuck that? Fuck you, dude.

#10 Inner G'

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 02:06 AM

View Postsomethingdumb, on 13 March 2014 - 10:19 PM, said:

No no no no no a million times no that's not a thing dont be stupid
edit: I just want to reiterate that racism against whites (or: reverse racism) is not a thing. It's crazy. Your implication that he 'just wanted white people out' is terrible.
They came into a black neighborhood: fine. nothing wrong with that
But then: they, with a total lack of awareness, trod upon their culture. That's bad.
And then: because more white people are there, it becomes a "nicer neighborhood", and rent goes up. That's bad.
And THEN: Some of the lower income black families are forced to move from their homes, more white people come in, and after years of struggle to improve their situation, neighborhood, etc, it's ONLY WHEN THEY LEAVE THAT THE INSTITUTION STARTS CLEANING THE PLACE UP

And you get mad at Spike because he said fuck that? Fuck you, dude.


Your sense of humor is pretty bizarre. Maybe you are playing a character who thinks that prejudice=racism, and that because "racism against whites is not a thing" that means that black people cannot have any prejudices, but it is missing the mark.
I am glad that you have taken a 101 African American studies class at your university, but taking the angle of black culture being destroyed by white culture is only perpetuating the social climate that Spike was so upset about. A far more positive position would just to make the place nicer for anyone and everyone, not just anger that white people came in and the place got nicer. Welcome to 2014, people with money are going to buy into the neighborhoods that they like...the country's history was founded in people wanting land and forcing people out. So, maybe Spike is against the American way, the American dream, and the very essence of the red, white, and blue.
He basically said that he wanted the Jewish ghettos of Nazi Germany to be his "home" in Brooklyn, and that he would assault anybody for cleaning up his garbage-laden streets.

I think that my character is beating your character.
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#11 AlamoBasement

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 06:15 AM

this ep hurt me i was laughing so hard thanks!

#12 justinmh05

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 07:56 AM

Andy Secunda's version of Oscar the Grouch sounded a bit like Don Dimello at first. :)

#13 Hot - Slunch

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 08:10 AM

HAHAHAHA @ that Alex guy claiming Oscar the Grouch was any race in the scene.

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#14 Neclord

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 12:11 PM

Is it just me, or does Andy Secunda sound exactly like Mr Sark of Nerd Poker? Really threw me off for a bit.

#15 earpanther

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 02:15 PM

I was coming here to say how much Secunda sounds like a perfect combination of Brian Huskey and Andy Daly. I find that it's uncanny.

#16 Alexbn1

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 12:26 PM

I've reneged on the depiction of Oscar, I know that it's easy to focus on my criticism of that scene and I think that picture of Ed Lover is great btw. Truthfully it was Matt's sentiment that thrust me into feeling pissed. What I don't agree with is the sentiment expressed by Matt, "I think most white people who move to Brooklyn know that not as many white people used to live there and everything used to be shittier". I think there are equal opportunity offenders with regard to race, absolutely no one should get a pass on that. I think the interpretation of Spike at face value appears unfocused and "reverse racist", but what he is speaking to is anything but that. I've written this before, but Spike's comments open doors to more conversations, just as his films do, and he is describing it on the same terms. To dismiss them at face value even for comedy is tone deaf at best, and irresponsible at it's worst.

#17 somethingdumb

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 12:43 PM

View PosthugLife, on 14 March 2014 - 02:06 AM, said:


Your sense of humor is pretty bizarre. Maybe you are playing a character who thinks that prejudice=racism, and that because "racism against whites is not a thing" that means that black people cannot have any prejudices, but it is missing the mark.
I am glad that you have taken a 101 African American studies class at your university, but taking the angle of black culture being destroyed by white culture is only perpetuating the social climate that Spike was so upset about. A far more positive position would just to make the place nicer for anyone and everyone, not just anger that white people came in and the place got nicer. Welcome to 2014, people with money are going to buy into the neighborhoods that they like...the country's history was founded in people wanting land and forcing people out. So, maybe Spike is against the American way, the American dream, and the very essence of the red, white, and blue.
He basically said that he wanted the Jewish ghettos of Nazi Germany to be his "home" in Brooklyn, and that he would assault anybody for cleaning up his garbage-laden streets.

I think that my character is beating your character.

Hey dude, racial prejudice is called racism. Ugh.

#18 Lemon Session

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 09:21 PM

Okay wow, we need to put some real facts and reporting behind these statements.

First off, Sean Conroy is an amazing improvisor and really fucking funny but he didn't know what the fuck he was talking about when it came to Spike Lee's comments about his dad playing bass:

http://www.nytimes.c...dache.html?_r=0

Here's the bottom line -- there's nothing wrong with a city getting cleaned up by money. What's wrong is when dumbasses move next to sources of loud noises -- clubs with live music, the homes of musicians -- and then do all they can to shut down the source of noise instead of accepting the fact that THEY MOVED SOMEWHERE THAT'S LOUD.

This shit was already bad in Seattle and surrounding suburbs (it's getting worst, with some of the city's oldest, most important clubs getting the boot so more condos that no one will buy can be built) and it's getting just as bad at a record pace down in San Francisco.

I think Spike was so mad about the whole thing that it was hard for him to get his thoughts straight and that should be taken into account when considering his arguments.

#19 Inner G'

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 02:29 AM

View Postsomethingdumb, on 15 March 2014 - 12:43 PM, said:

Hey dude, racial prejudice is called racism. Ugh.


Your name suits you well, so kudos to your for being so honest and upfront about yourself. As far as your comments go, I won't be offended by your ignorance since you have never used a dictionary before. They have them on the internet these days if you don't have one of your own.
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#20 BrianBrightblade

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:43 PM

View PostMatt Besser, on 13 March 2014 - 10:03 AM, said:

I agreed with everything Spike said and I've heard it many times before. Who hasn't? His rant seemed hilariously unfocused to me so it came off, in a comedic way, like what he said could be boiled down to he'd rather the garbage still not be picked up. To me he stated some obvious social trends but I didn't hear any solutions. So should white people not walk their dogs? Who exactly is he mad at? The current mayor is pretty damn liberal. As a result of listening to his rant what would Spike like the listener to do? I think most white people who move to Brooklyn know that not as many white people used to live there and everything used to be shittier. So beyond being aware, what are they supposed to do? Not move there? And, we certainly weren't thinking of Oscar the Grouch as being a black man. His connection came from the garbage.


The problem with Spike's gentrification rant is that he has no sense of history. In one of his recent movies, he lamented the gentrification of Red Hook with whites moving in and displacing blacks and their neighborhood culture. You know who lived in Red Hook in the 40s and 50s? Italians. Why did blacks move into Red Hook? Affordable rents and they were accused of disrupting the traditional Italian culture by the residents. Who lived there before the Italians? Well, it originally was a Dutch community and then crossed over to German and Irish and a number of other ethnicities who all went there looking for cheaper rents and disrupted the neighborhood culture. That story sound familiar? It's the story of just about every neighborhood of New York for over 400 years.

It will continue to happen for the next 400 years if we aren't buried under the Atlantic Ocean from climate change.