Joel Stein on the Black Table: Shock value, sure, but where’s the funny?

Joel Stein.jpgLA Times columnist Joel Stein upped the frat-boy gross-out humor ante yesterday over at The Black Table’s “Rock and a Hard Place,” a column by vice-ridden Oddjack editor AJ Daulerio who delights in getting his subjects to be as crass, dirty, and downright skeevy as possible. The series is usually shocking (due to Daulerio’s oft-degenerate questions) but usually hilarious, the kind of hilarious you don’t admit to finding hilarious due to the above-mentioned degeneracy. To wit: Greg Gutfeld, pride of HuffPo, in April and Ted Casablancas in May (oh, our golden Ted, we never knew ye!).

But Stein’s version? Feh, we’re not so impressed. Perhaps it’s because, as Daulerio alludes to in the introduction, Stein is a humor writer and everything’s a punchline. Hard to get much real insight under those circumstances. (NB: possibly the first time the word “insight” has been used with respect to “Rock and a Hard Place.”) But maybe it’s because we’ve heard it all before: Stein’s readers are underage/read like they’re underage; Stein is a smartass; Stein has not-cared his way through pretty impressive plums like his Time gig, HBO spots and now-defunct TV show.

Thing is, we know all that already, and it’s not nearly as funny as Stein on anything other than, well, Stein. I’ve been reading his stuff for years now, ever since an ex-boyfriend used to semi-maniacally foist his columns on me (uh, remember, this isn’t Michael Sonnenschein writing). We’ve all read his stuff in the LAT, in Time, even in the New Yorker, for God’s sake – so we know he can be smart, and funny. He’s just not, particularly, here.

But don’t let us spoil it for you; check it on out yourself so we can congratulate ourselves on how popular we are after the spike in Black Table readership.

p.s. Joel, we all know Nikki Finke could kick your ass.

–Rachel Sklar, FishbowlNY