On ‘Crashing,’ how comics are respecting — or mocking — the #MeToo movement
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“Have a little accountability, OK? You’re not the victim. Just because you’re up there [onstage] pacing around wearing a leather jacket doesn’t mean you’re telling it like it is.” – Female comic responding to a misogynist veteran male comic’s pity party on HBO’s “Crashing”
From the get-go, the HBO series “Crashing” — starring the former Chicago comic Pete Holmes as an up-and-coming comic named Pete Holmes — has had one foot in the real world of stand-up comedy while telling the stories of the fictional Pete.
Name comics play themselves. In a story arc with an unfortunately realistic parallel to real-life events, Pete becomes friends with Artie Lange, whose struggles with addiction derail their bond, slow Artie’s career and could even lead to full tragedy.
In the premiere episode of Season Three, Pete drops in on the Boston Comedy Club in New York City, and the manager, Jason (Dov Davidoff), who’s also a veteran comic, says business is great:
“With the Comedy Cellar around the corner, everybody’s showing up to see if one of the disgraced comedians is going to make an appearance. They fill up, people find their way over here. Overflow, baby!”
In Episode 4, airing at 8 p.m. Sunday on HBO, Holmes, his fellow comic (and ex-girlfriend) Ali (Jamie Lee) and Jason are booked to play a corporate-owned comedy club in a shopping mall in New Jersey. The premise turns into a sharply rendered look at the #MeToo movement, how it has changed the comedy landscape — and how some male comics still don’t get it.
Jason is the headliner, and he takes to the stage to the accompaniment of heavy metal music, says “What’s up, f——s!” and launches into his regular set.
“Sometimes stereotypes are a reality,” he says. “That’s not racism, it’s pattern recognition! If you want to see a film in a quiet theater, steer clear of Harlem …”
It gets worse from there.
Most of Jason’s set consists of mocking the “new rules” involving men and women, e.g., “I’m not sure how to approach a woman. … We’re all on thin ice. What’s more creepy than asking a girl whether or not you can kiss her?”
There doesn’t seem to be much difference between Jason’s on-stage persona and the off-stage Jason, who sexually harasses the waitress (Jaleesa Capri) in the Green Room even after she’s told him — more than once — she’s not interested.
“Wake the f— up!” she says. “That kind of —-, that’s so over. … You know what the worst job in this club is, it’s working the f—— green room, because you guys think we all want to talk to you and we don’t. We really don’t. So just leave me alone and let me do my f—— job.”
And. Yet. The. Guy. Still. Doesn’t. Get. It.
Strong work from everyone in the ensemble, working off a script that makes some excellent points without making us feel we’re being lectured.
This is the kind of TV we should watch — but also listen to. Really listen.