Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

April 30 2017 1:20 AM

Here Are the Truest, Meanest Jokes that Bombed at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Daily Show senior correspondent Hasan Minhaj took on the most thankless job in comedy Saturday night, appearing at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association awards dinner. It was especially thankless this year: Donald Trump, famously skewered by President Obama and Seth Meyers in 2011, decided to skip it, and Samantha Bee threw her own competing event the same night. Nevertheless, Minhaj persisted, and you can watch his complete remarks above.

The only way to successfully host an event like the WHCD—as Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore demonstrated in their respective outings—is to address the room’s unique concentration of power and obliviousness with the contempt it deserves. Minhaj, operating at a huge disadvantage without the president or the usual nerd-prom celebrities there to roast, didn’t afflict the comfortable as efficiently or hilariously as his fellow Daily Show veterans. But he did score a few shocked silences and appalled gasps, which in that room mean a lot more than laughs. So here are some of the jokes that bombed hardest, which is another way of saying they’re most likely to be true:

April 29 2017 8:21 PM

Watch the Cast of The Godfather Reunite Live at the Tribeca Film Festival

The cast and crew of The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II are reuniting at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, and you can watch, live on Facebook. As Variety reports, the festival’s closing night panel is being livestreamed from Radio City Music Hall. Director Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, James Caan, Diane Keaton, and Talia Shire will be discussing the films and pretending the series’ third installment never happened on the festival’s Facebook page.

Usually, film festival panels are reserved for people lucky enough to be going to film festivals, but now everyone can prepare their own “more of a comment than a question” for their favorite filmmakers and post it on Facebook comments. Will you be the first person to ask Pacino and De Niro about Heat? Why not?

At the end of the panel, the cast will reportedly have a long conversation about Marlon Brando’s imminent arrival, but he won’t appear on stage. The panel is scheduled to begin at 8:10 Eastern, and you can watch it below:

April 29 2017 8:03 AM

Kendrick Lamar’s New No. 1 Proves He’s Not Just Our Greatest Rapper. He’s One of Our Biggest Pop Stars.

He’s now calling himself “Kung Fu Kenny.” But who knew the greatest rapper alive would pull a Carl Douglas and actually hit the top of the pops?

It’s not like Kendrick Lamar made it easy on himself—he didn’t rely on the usual performance-enhancing tricks of a dance craze or a viral gimmick to propel “Humble” to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100. Instead, he made a tight, sub-three-minute single—a rapper’s exercise in efficient bars-delivery, with a thumping 808 beat and an infectious piano hook. That hook comes courtesy of Michael “Mike Will Made-It” Williams, making “Humble” the second No. 1 for the Atlanta producer, after Rae Sremmurd’s 2016 smash “Black Beatles.” But unlike that Mannequin Challenge–fueled chart-topper, no social fad is behind “Humble’s” ascension. The song’s chorus does have a repetitive, meme-worthy mantra, “Bitch, be humble/ Sit down,” and at one point Kendrick even taunts, cryptically, “My left stroke just went viral,” all but daring the interwebs to meme-ify him. But no one’s lining up (yet) to generate Twitter yuks à la the ones inspired by Migos’ “Raindrops—drop top” or even the respective “Challenges” currently keeping Future’s “Mask Off” and Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llif3” in the Top 10.

So why is this song No. 1?

April 28 2017 5:59 PM

Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, and Laura Dern Reflect on that Famous Coming Out Episode, 20 Years Later

Ellen DeGeneres opened her talk show on Thursday by announcing, “I’m Ellen and I’m gay,” echoing the moment two decades ago when she came out as a lesbian on her sitcom Ellen in an episode called “The Puppy Episode” (so named because executives wanted Ellen’s character to get a puppy instead of a girlfriend). Thursday’s episode was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of that episode, including a reunion with Ellen cast members and two special guests from “The Puppy Episode”: Oprah Winfrey, who played Ellen’s therapist and then hosted her on The Oprah Winfrey Show as a followup, and Laura Dern, who played her potential love interest.

The entire reunion show was an important reminder of how radical DeGeneres’ coming out really was at the time. Winfrey and Dern both recalled the backlash over their participation, with The Oprah Winfrey Showreceiving racist phone calls and Dern having difficulty finding work. DeGeneres explained that in the aftermath of the announcement, not only was her show cancelled just a year later, but she was the butt of late night jokes, had passersby scream at her, and was on the receiving end of death threats and even a bomb scare on set.


With her usual good humor, however, DeGeneres ended the segment on a positive note. “I always encourage people, because it really did teach me that no matter what the cost is at the time […] as long as you stay true to who you are, you will be rewarded in ways that you can’t even imagine.”

DeGeneres was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November, with President Obama noting, ““It’s easy to forget, now, when we’ve come so far … just how important it was, not just to the LGBT community, but for all of us, to see somebody so full of kindness and light—somebody we liked so much, somebody who could be our neighbor, or our colleague, or our sister—challenge our own assumptions, remind us that we have more in common than we realize, push our country in the direction of justice.”

April 28 2017 4:00 PM

Lest You Think the TV Reboot Craze Was Over, Roseanne Is Getting a Revival

Another classic is getting in on the TV reboot craze. Deadline is reporting that Roseanne, the acclaimed ’90s sitcom from Roseanne Barr and co-starring John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, is being primed for a return as an eight-episode limited series. Barr, Goodman, and Sara Gilbert are all signed on, Metcalf and others are expected to join them, and multiple outlets—including original home ABC and reboot lover Netflix—have already started bidding on the project.

Roseanne ran from 1988 to 1997 and was centered on the Conners, a working-class family in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois. The series was noted for its realistic, sympathetic portrait of lower-income people, with both parents Roseanne (Barr) and Dan (Goodman) working outside the home and many episodes revolving around money problems. It also gradually tackled a range of social issues—one main character was notably revealed as a lesbian in the finale—and very unusually ended on the revelation that the entire original run was a lightly fictionalized, first-person account of Roseanne Conner’s life.


According to Deadline, ABC is particularly motivated to jump on the return of Roseanne in its ongoing effort to “better reflect” the lives of everyday Americans. That’s one effective way to spin the latest in a long line of buzzy sitcom reboots; indeed, Roseanne’s class-conscious portrayal of family life would still stick out as rare in today’s landscape. (It should also, as a clear depiction of Trump country, have a unique perspective to bring to the current political climate.) But it’s hard not to have some fatigue over this seemingly endless reboot trend, and the fact that nothing in TV can really stay dead anymore.

That last point is especially true in Roseanne’s case, anyway. Will Dan be coming back from the dead? Assuming he does, there’s certainly a meta joke for the show to make there.

April 28 2017 2:56 PM

Luxury Fyre Festival With $12,000 Tickets Postponed After Reports of Chaos, Theft, Ham Sandwiches

The supposedly luxurious Fyre Festival, an event promising “the best in food, art, music, and adventure” on a private island in the Bahamas, has been “postponed” after festivalgoers reported conditions that more closely evoke Lord of the Flies than Coachella. Tickets for the event, which promised performances by Tyga, Desiigner, Major Lazer, Pusha T, and Blink-182, sold for anyhere between $1,500 and $12,000 (though some reports have that number as high as $250,000 for a private villa stay). But accounts from the island itself suggest that the festival was immediately plagued by a total lack of organization, shoddy accommodations, and luggage mishaps, in addition to unconfirmed reports of violence, theft, and feral dogs.

Eyewitnesses told Billboard that the festival grounds in the Exumas appeared half-finished when guests arrived, with shelters comparable to disaster relief tents. What's more, festival attendees have shared photos of “gourmet cuisine,” supposedly included in the ticket price, that amounted to ham and cheese sandwiches served with salad.


A piece in the Wall Street Journal foresaw the festival's woes almost a month ago, noting that organizers were delayed in paying performers and confirming flights. For now, remaining scheduled flights from Miami to the island have been cancelled, with attendees who had already arrived being evacuated—though even that seems to be going disastrously, with reports that passengers have been locked into the airport without food or water, allegedly for their own safety.

Fyre Festival was created by rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland and promoted by the likes of Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski. Given the exorbitant ticket prices and the high-profile celebrities involved, it’s no surprise that Twitter was quick to mock the less-than-luxurious outcome.

On its website, Fyre Festival posted a statement: “Fyre Festival set out to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience on the Islands of the Exumas. Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests. At this time, we are working tirelessly to get flights scheduled and get everyone off of Great Exuma and home safely as quickly as we can.” The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism issued its own statement apologizing for the disorganization and promising to assist in getting attendees off the island.

Update, April 28: Ja Rule has issued a statement via Twitter.


April 28 2017 11:57 AM

Watch a Hilarious Sneak Peek of Carrie Fisher’s Finale Performance in Catastrophe Season 3

The last performance Carrie Fisher filmed was for the third season of Catastrophe, the excellent Amazon comedy in which she played Rob Delaney’s mother, Mia. Though Fisher’s appearances in the first two seasons mostly amounted to extended cameos, co-creators and stars Delaney and Sharon Horgan had planned to give her meatier material later on. “We wanted to do a lot more with Carrie—I was only just beginning to be invited to her house!” Horgan recently told Page Six. “We wanted to flesh her out more and give her a story and a reason for her behavior. And the only reason why we did that is because Carrie made us want to do that.”

Fisher does get a bit of a showcase, at least, in the third season finale, as Mia comes into town for another character’s funeral. (The episode’s circumstances are less than ideal in that regard.) She ends up residing with Rob and Sharon temporarily, eventually driving both of them up the wall. Amazon released a tease of the episode, featuring Mia on the couch with Sharon nearby as she goes on a biting rant about schizophrenia, and it’s a small but potent reminder of just how funny Fisher could be.


Better yet, Horgan told People that Fisher mostly ad-libbed the scene. “She and I are together in the sitting room, and she starts talking about a TV show that she’s watching called My Children Are Schizophrenic,” Horgan recalled. “That whole little ramble about the show was off the top of her head. And every time she did it, we’d call cut and the whole place would crack up laughing.”

The third season of Catastrophe is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Fisher appears in the season finale, “Episode 6.”

April 28 2017 9:46 AM

Donald Trump Draws Up a “Nice! Not Nice!” List on The President Show

Comedy Central’s The President Show aired its first full episode last night, and in a clip that could easily have been based on actual events, Donald Trump (Anthony Atamanuik) decided to draw up a most important governmental document: a Nice! or Not Nice! list. For the most part, his choices aren’t too surprising. Marine Le Pen? Nice: “She’s French, she’s blonde, and she hates Muslims—she’s a triple threat!” Those Ivanka-booing germans? Not so much: “Disgusting. This is the worst thing that Germans have ever done. Ever. Ever done. Ever.”

The only topic that gave the (fake) president some trouble was his oft-mocked and rarely effective press secretary, Sean Spicer. “He’s a muttering slobber-mouth with a taste for his own foot,” Trump admits. “Why don’t I fire this guy?” Then onto the nice part, the thing that Trump has proven to value more than competence, loyalty, maybe even money: TV ratings. “Sean Spicer’s TV ratings: I can’t fire this guy,” the president quickly realizes. “His ratings are tremendous. We love ratings and Spicer brings them in.” He’s not wrong about that.

April 28 2017 7:32 AM

Alexis Bledel As Ofglen in The Handmaid’s Tale Is the Role She Was Born to Play

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Spoilers ahead for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

A few minutes into her first scene in The Handmaid’s Tale, Alexis Bledel holds an orange. It’s a relatively insignificant moment, but it struck me, since, in her years of playing Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, Bledel always seemed visibly uncomfortable with props. This hit a flash point when, in the awkwardly Photoshopped posters for Netflix’s Gilmore revival, it appeared that she had no idea how to hold everyday objects (I snidely tweeted about this, and Bledel later defended herself on national television). Bledel’s an easy target. She never quite shed her Rory persona, nor the sense you got in Gilmore Girls’s Stars Hollow that she was always in a daze watching the show’s Mach-five dialogue whiz by her. But in The Handmaid’s Tale’s oppressive, anxiety-inducing dystopia, Bledel is somehow right at home. You can see the fear in her eyes, the flickering resolve in her nervous composure, and a kind of punctured sadness in her posture. She even holds oranges the right way.

April 28 2017 5:52 AM

The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Hulu in May

Every month, tons of new movies and TV shows become available to stream for free for subscribers to Netflix Instant, Hulu, HBO NOW, and Amazon Prime. With so many different streaming services, it can be hard to keep track of them all—especially if you belong to more than one service. Below, we present to you the ultimate streaming guide. We’ll let you decide which service has the best new titles. (All titles arrive May 1 unless otherwise specified.)