Today’s Guest: Paul Provenza, comedian, director, The Aristocrats, actor, “Northern Exposure”
Watch this exclusive Mr. Media interview with comedian Paul Provenza by clicking on the video player above!
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of Godless antagonists who make lots of money, are household names, and reject your fumbling prayers for their salvation… in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
Do atheists get a bad rap?
Or do they just need a better public relations rep?
Either might explain the “No God But Funny Contest,” a new TV scriptwriting competition that offers $40,000 in prizes to writers who portray atheists as more fully rounded people – even role models for some of the population. It is sponsored jointly by The Center for Inquiry and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. There is a $40 entry fee and the deadline for submissions is May 15, 2015.
PAUL PROVENZA podcast excerpt: “I am sophisticated enough to know that just because a character unlikeable qualities — a murderer, in the case of Dexter — doesn’t mean that they’re not the hero in that anti-hero way… To me, a positive character has to be flawed. So that’s going to make for some interesting ‘No God But Funny’ judging conversations.”
The contest promises $15,000 to those crafting the winning sitcom script and $25,000 to producers of the winning webisode that takes the “ass” out of atheists.
By the way, the sponsors promise you will not go to hell if you enter. But read the fine print and you’ll discover they are only 99.9 percent certain, so maybe you should hedge your bet.
PAUL PROVENZA podcast excerpt: “When you let go of the sense of preordained positive negative way of living, life is just random. Random, random, random. Even when 25 flips of the coin come up heads, the 26th could kill you.”
What, you may ask, is wrong with the way TV’s best known atheist characters are presented today? You be the judge:
• Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, the lead on Fox’s long-running police procedural “Bones” is labeled by the contest as a “Robot”;
• Dr. Sheldon Cooper, a physicist on CBS’s top-rated series “The Big Bang Theory,” is “Emotionless”;
• Dexter Morgan, the forensic scientist by day and serial killer by night and star of the Showtime series “Dexter” –not the Cartoon Network show “Dexter’s Laboratory” – I think – is a “Murderer”;
• Dr. Gregory House, the genius medical mind featured on “House, M.D.,” is a “Misanthrope”;
• Dr. Perry Cox, the heartless, narcissistic physician supervisor on “Scrubs,” is, quite simply, an “Asshole”;
• And Britta Perry, one of the eternal students on Yahoo!’s sitcom “Community” is a “Pessimist” – not as damning as the descriptions of the others, but still not an endorsement for the Godless crowd.
Joining me today to talk about the “No God But Funny” TV writing contest is one of the judges, comedian Paul Provenza.
PAUL PROVENZA podcast excerpt: “Art can be really transcendent. And I know it’s funny to use ‘transcendent’ in any conversation about ‘The Aristocrats,’ but I think human creativity and invention can be transcendent. That’s what drove that film. Certainly not everybody in the movie is an atheist! I have no idea who in the movie is a believer or non-believer. I have no clue! But I do think being atheist comes from being the kind of person who looks at things without falling prey to, ‘Ooh, that’s a dirty word.’ Or ‘That’s a bad concept.’ Or ‘That’s an awful thing to talk about.'”
Provenza’s credentials are incredibly broad, from directing 2005’s genre-breaking comedy documentary The Aristocrats to replacing Rob Morrow on the final season of CBS’s “Northern Exposure” to hosting the ripsnorting Showtime comedy roundtable “The Green Room with Paul Provenza.”
Probably best-known for his work as a stand-up comedian, he also is the author (with Don Dion) of a book, ¡Satiristas!, featuring his full-length interviews with Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Marc Maron, and George Carlin.