Dunder-Mifflin Company Picnic

* An America that forces a barbecue restaurant owner to hide his mannequin's glorious breasts is not an America I want to live in.

* Someone at New York Magazine took the trouble to break down the current SNL season by all kinds of stats - which actors got the most face time, which celebrities were most impersonated, etc.  It reveals that Kristin Wiig is in darn near every sketch.  It does not reveal why a show this revered has become so awful.  After the election, the wheels fell off that beast.

* Joakim Noah is one of the goofiest looking men ever.  But he is also rich and he's cavorting with his hot, topless girlfriend at some tropical island.  So I should just shut up.

This week, a Rhode Island surgeon began operating on the wrong part of a patient's mouth.  Also, that wasn't a mouth.

* Come to Tijuana for the lower drinking age.  Stay because you got murdered there.

Detroit is America's most depressing place.  Enjoy your stay, Matthew Stafford.

* What happens when the robots take over the last remaining journalism jobs?  Just horrible, horrible photo errors, that's all.

* Good news, laid-off old dudes.  Pfizer will keep buying you Viagra so you can continue hooking up with your mistress.

* You know when everyone throws their hats on the ice after a hat trick?  Here's what happens to the lids.

* Todd Stroger says he didn't have enough cash on hand to pay his taxes.  Now he's paying them off on an "installment plan."  Say what?  Man, these are taxes!  You can't put taxes on layaway.  You can't just look at the IRS and say, "Can I get you back tomorrow?"  You are the president of the Cook County Board.  You are a powerful, powerful dude.  But you are either terribly forgetful, woefully incompetent, or an incredibly pompous ass.  Pay your bills, Toddler.

* Vancouver hockey fans were buying goats for starving African families every time the Canucks won in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  So way to go, Blackhawks.  Your series victory means hundreds of African families will starve to death.  Hope you're happy.

1 in 5 people admits to peeing in the pool.  So if you're ever in the pool with four other people, one of you is peeing at any given moment.

Jay Leno yaks about his new show.  He's threatening a longer monologue with dozens of "jokes."  NBC is rolling this out as a part of its new "We Hate You, America!  Go Outside or Read a Book" lineup.

* Finally!  Blago shampoo and conditioner.

* People are so freaked out they're going to get fired, they're not taking their vacations.  This work climate is unbearable.  During my last performance review, my manager hinted that he'd like to see improvement in the area of me washing his car three times a week.  And then he just stared at me with a cocked eyebrow until I backed out the door awkwardly.

Two Yellowstone workers were fired for urinating into Old Faithful.  What's more impressive, they did it on the hour, every hour.

Happiness is genetic.  Hmmm... sucks to know I won't have anything to pass on to my kids someday.

Those creepy fish-eating-your-dead-skin pedicures have come to Illinois.  For half the cost, my cousin Pete will let you stick your foot in his piranha tank.

* Congratulations to Tulsa, Oklahoma, home to the fewest erections in the United States.  Hell, if I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I'd have a hard time getting excited, too.

* Office Finale Spoilers Below!

So... Pam's pregnant. This displeases me. I think comedy works when the protagonists are irritated or downtrodden. We feel for low status characters. The bully, the boss or the guy whose life is great - these people will not make us laugh unless we see their flaws.

Nobody wants to see a comedy about happy people being happy and doing happy things. That's what we wish our lives were. Our lives aren't that. We need to see our proxies struggle and fail.

The same principle applies in an action movie. We want to see Indy in danger. We want to see our heroes face incredible odds and terrifying foes. When they succeed, the movie is over. People love "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" because Spock dies. We love "The Empire Strikes Back" because Luke gets terrible news and Han gets frozen. We love "The Godfather," and that is rife with pain and suffering for Michael Corleone.

We use comedy to commiserate, and I think that's where the American "Office" has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Michael shouldn't get rewarded for starting his own paper company. Jim & Pam should never get together until the series finale. Dwight should play the annoying foil at all times. When you release the tension, we stop caring.

I write this as the Lakers play the Rockets in the playoffs. As soon as one team wins, the heat of the game cools, and we care less and less as time goes on. Entertainment must prevent the protagonist from victory until the last possible moment. Nobody wants a half-hour of epilogue, even on "The Return of the King."

I am opinionated.

To comment, click the blog title and scroll down.  E-mail: ben.bowman(AT)nbcuni.com

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