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About Me

Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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  • Tim Is Back

    By Kyle | December 14, 2011

    HBO’s twisted office-drone comedy “The Life and Times of Tim” returns this Friday night. The first episode of season three is not one of my favorites, but check out the show anyway, for reasons I mentioned in my look at the first two seasons.

    Topics: Comedy | No Comments »

    The Second Life of “The Life and Times of Tim”

    By Kyle | September 8, 2011

    I was psyched to see that HBO un-canceled “The Life and Times of Tim” in much the same way that “Family Guy” returned from the dead. HBO canceled the show immediately after I went out on the limb to praise it (my editor said something like, “No one has ever written about this show,” which couldn’t be literally true). So I guess, Tim-like, I get no credit for my good deed, although HBO seems to be using my words in marketing materials. It’ll be back on the air Dec. 19. Here’s my review of it from The New York Post last year.

    Topics: Comedy, TV | No Comments »

    Tina Fey: Memorist or No?

    By Kyle | April 6, 2011

    I much enjoyed the two New Yorker excerpts from Tina Fey’s book “Bossypants,” which may or may not be a memoir. I always enjoy it when professionals discourse on the nature of comedy, and Fey had some astute points about male comedy writers (who tend to leave their own urine lying around in jars and seem primarily interested in transgressing norms) vs. female ones (who are more interested in the foibles of character). Boy writers would make every joke about robots or sharks if they could. She also pointed out how the Harvard Lampoon background of “SNL” writers butts heads with the style of those trained in Chicago improv, who rely heavily on boisterous delivery and catchphrases to get laughs. Anyway, I look forward to reading her book. (No, I don’t dislike her for making fun of Sarah Palin. Comedians are supposed to make fun of public figures. They succeed to the extent they can get near to some truth, though, which is another matter.)
    Separately, Alec Baldwin has revealed that “30 Rock” is closing up shop after the next season. Everyone’s contracts run out in 2012, he says, and no one is renewing. I’m not sure Baldwin’s comparison of Fey to Elaine May is entirely fair… to Fey. May was a cult figure who more or less flopped in Hollywood.

    Topics: Books, Comedy, TV | 3 Comments »

    “Moral Turpitude? Moi?”

    By Kyle | March 8, 2011

    I was wondering how Warner Brothers would get around to firing Charlie Sheen. It turns out “moral turpitude” is the best they could do; but I doubt “ranting like a nutjob” is cited in his contract as a nullifying option. It seems it took the finest minds in the Warner Bros. legal department a couple of weeks to come up with…not much. They didn’t really have a choice, but I suspect Sheen will win a hefty settlement, not to mention rebounding with a reality show that it will be pretty hard not to watch. Suggested title: “A Drug Called Charlie Sheen.” “Retarded Zombies” might be a little too off-topic. Wouldn’t it be fun if the Warners-Sheen dispute actually made it to court? It would make the Michael Jackson trial look like a routine SEC filing.

    Topics: Comedy, TV | 2 Comments »

    Charlie Pulls a Mel

    By Kyle | February 25, 2011

    And Charlie Sheen’s career is ending in five, four, three….claiming he has “magic and poetry” in his fingertips (and, er, anti-Semitism), Charlie Sheen self-immolates. Couldn’t have happened to a sweeter guy.

    Question: will anyone miss him? Related question: how long will it take for CBS to simply hire someone else to fill in la Darren II on “Bewitched” — and go on as if nothing happened? CBS could even slip in a few in-jokes. Jon Cryer: “My, you look a little bit….different.” Sheen substitute: “Me? Yeah, my skin is clearing up since I decided to start gargling with Listerine instead of Jack Daniel’s.” (Guffaws from studio audience.)

    I’ve never seen an entire episode of “Two and a Half Men.” Normally 30 seconds of it is enough to make me want to set fire to the TV. Has anyone else endured it to the end?

    Topics: Comedy, TV | 10 Comments »

    Review: “Love & Other Drugs”

    By Kyle | November 24, 2010

    Hey, who put this disease picture in my raunchy comedy? My review of Ed Zwick’s “Love & Other Drugs” is up. As my colleague Lou Lumenick noticed, though the film is about a Viagra salesman, you will find no Viagra jokes in my writeup.

    I was out sick, so my output this week in the Post is rather thin. Apologies. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Topics: Comedy, Movies | No Comments »

    Adam Carolla for President

    By Kyle | November 21, 2010

    Adam Carolla’s book “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks” is so awesome that he reminds me of Greg Gutfeld. More in my Sunday book review-essay-thingy.

    Topics: Books, Comedy | 12 Comments »

    Is This Funny?

    By Kyle | November 9, 2010

    I have no doubt that I would have laughed if I had listened to Conan O’Brien’s monologue last night. But would anyone laugh, or even crack a smile, while silently reading the following jokes? It’s interesting how “funny novelist/essayist/whatever” and “funny comedian” are two totally different things (although Steve Martin is both, as is Woody Allen).

    “Thank you. Thank you and welcome to my 2nd annual first show.”

    “Yes, I know what you guys are thinking, ‘Hey, it’s the guy from Twitter.’

    “Welcome to my new show, Conan. People ask me why I named the show “Conan.” I did it so I’d be harder to replace.

    “This is an exciting night. I’m glad to be on cable. The truth is, I’ve dreamed of being a talk show host on basic cable ever since I was 46.

    “And things are going well already. I’m happy to report that we’re already #1 in TBS’s key demographic — people who can’t afford HBO.

    “I’m going to be honest: It’s not easy doing a late-night show on a channel without a lot of money and that viewers have trouble finding. So that’s why I left NBC.

    “But the weird thing is this: I put myself and my staff through a lot because I refused to go on at midnight. So I get this job at eleven. Then, yesterday, Daylight Savings Time ended — so right now it’s basically midnight. In fact, it’s 12:05.

    “A lot’s happened in the news since I went off the air — and I was hoping I could cover it all in one joke. But then I realized that’s like trying to keep an Icelandic volcano from wearing Lady Gaga’s meat dress while a trapped Chilean miner cleans up the BP oil spill…Brett Favre’s penis.”

    If there were an entire book along these lines, would you read it? On the other hand, if someone read Mark Twain or Martin Amis or Tom Wolfe aloud onstage, I think people would laugh. Is literary humor therefore superior to standup comedy? (Character-based comedy writing for TV or movies is yet a third category.)

    Topics: Comedy | No Comments »

    Jimmy Carter: Sexual Offender

    By Kyle | November 9, 2010

    One of several amusing gags in the Rachel McAdams-Harrison Ford-Diane Keaton comedy “Morning Glory” is a bit where a struggling morning-chat program messes up its graphics with the result that, as Ford grimly intones the details of a sexual offender wanted in Wisconsin, the chryon “sexual offender” remains onscreen as the photo above it switches from a police sketch to the subject of the next segment: Jimmy Carter. So Ford starts talking about what former president Jimmy is upt to while behind his head there is a picture of Carter with the words “Sexual Offender” running beneath. Well, we all know he has lusted in his heart.

    Topics: Comedy, Movies, Politics | No Comments »

    Treasury Secretary Meets with Little-Watched Comedian

    By Kyle | November 4, 2010

    So Tim Geithner had an off-the-record meeting with Jon Stewart, a comedian and anchor of what he insists is a “fake news” show, not to be taken seriously, except when it should be taken seriously. Stewart is sort of like a transvestite boxer: He can hit you, but if you try to hit back, she insists she’s a girl. Who would hit a girl? That’s just mean.

    A few questions:
    1) How can Stewart claim not to be a real journalist (and therefore not to be held accountable to any standards whatsoever) if top political figures treat him as someone as important as the Washington bureau chief of the biggest newspapers?
    2) Didn’t either Stewart or Geithner, each of them supposedly a public servant, have any obligation to make public the fact that he was a spinner or spinnee of the other?
    3) Did Stewart address Geithner as “money dude,” “Mr. T” or “Treasury Tim?”
    4) Why is the administration taking Jon Stewart so seriously that it has to dispatch a top cabinet member to assuage him?
    5) What other entertainers is the administration wasting the nation’s time sucking up to?

    Topics: Barack Obama, Comedy, Politics | 2 Comments »

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