Don't you hate him? Maybe not. Maybe not yet. Maybe it will take more for you. That's fair.
Let me try to describe Judah Friedlander. First, he's a "comedian." I don't know what kind of comedy he does, except that it certainly sucks. I do know he's on '30 Rock,' which is a show I've seen maybe 4 times. Some folks tell me it's good- I don't know. Otherwise, the best place to gather information about Judah Friedlander is from Wikipedia. The first line of his entry goes a little something like this:
Judah Friedlander (born March 16, 1969) is an American actor and comedian, known for his trademark trucker hats, oversized glasses and unkempt appearance, which he retains in most of his screen roles.
Summary in case that one sentence was too long for you: He's 41 and he sucks.
One of my main rhetorical strategies will be to post pictures of Judah Friedlander at key moments in an attempt to stoke your hatred.
About those hats: Judah Friedlander is ironic. If you're like me, you just about hate irony right now. It can be kind of awesome in the right hands, but at this point it's been bulldozed into oblivion by hipsters and their ilk. It's easier just to avoid the whole concept. I compare it to a Hitler mustache. Maybe that would be an elegant look for someone. Maybe Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner would look intriguing with a Hitler mustache. But he's not going to do it. Why? Because he's a scumbag.
Wait, no...it's because Hitler grew a Hitler mustache and nobody wants to be associated with Hitler because he was Hitler. Sorry, I'm getting way off track.
Point is, people like Judah Friedlander ruined irony. Which is actually an understatement. Let me try again: Judah Friedlander is solely responsible for ruining irony because he wears trucker hats and oversized glasses, and he might even ruin America. There.
The hats say things like 'World Champion,' or 'Karate Mom,' or 'Mystery Solver,' or 'Most Improved.' Maybe you giggled just now, reading those. That's fine. There's an element of comedy there. But it also sucks. It sucks really, really hard. Here are five reasons why, followed by another picture of Judah Friedlander:
1) You're supposed to infer something about Judah Friedlander from these hats. Namely that he's funny, counter-culture, and a total subtle ironic genius. Well, man, I fucking refuse to do that. I think it's lazy. I think it's a totally lazy and bullshit thing for a comedian to do. Call me a hero if you want; that's just what I believe.
2) There's something aggressive about the hats. They're not friendly. It kinda puts you on the defensive, like, 'am I supposed to think this is funny? Am I allowed to ask him about it? Is he smarter than me because he wears these hats? Is he totally brilliant and beyond anything I could ever understand?' Here's the conversation that I imagine would ensue if I asked Judah Friedlander about his hats:
Me: Hey, why do you wear those hats?
Judah Friedlander: Um...are you serious?
Some fuckface tool that follows him around: Dude, those hats are like jazz. If you have to ask about them, you'll never understand.
Me: I'm just curious how it started, or what the point is, or anything.
Tina Fey: Judah Friedlander and I have a special relationship. I understand him and think he's totally hilarious. Along with being a total comic genius, he's really sensitive, and you're being really uncool right now.
Me: What? I was just trying-
Fuckface tool: Dude, it's like jazz.
You can see that a theoretical conversation about the hats doesn't go well. Though it's unclear from the dialogue, Judah Friedlander actually left the room after the second line (it took place at Tina Fey's second home in Puerto Rico).
3) He's cultivating a look, which is some weak shit. Aside from the hat and glasses, you'll notice from his photographs that he always puts on some idiotic or otherwise extreme expression. You have no idea what Judah Friedlander is actually like. I have a feeling he's probably really insecure, like everyone else. Except Judah Friedlander tries to hide that insecurity behind a facade, which sucks. Art, and especially comedy, is supposed to stem from your insecurity, not to function as a cloak. To me, he's not measurably different from a fashion mogul whose face is a constant, inscrutable mask, who speaks in mysterious idioms, and who wears 'interesting' clothing to distract you from anything concrete or interesting about himself.*
*I have no idea if such people actually exist. I'm working with stereotypes here.
4) I think deep down, Judah Friedlander knew that wearing these kinda hats would attract a following. And I think he knew just what that following would be: sheep. Sheep-like little hipsters who want to feel like they're different from their parents, and from what they consider the 'establishment.' People who maybe aren't really bright and who don't have a great sense of humor, but want to feel cool and young and different. And instead of working for it, Judah Friedlander took the easy route. He let his face go slack, assumed an air of hipster mystery, and threw on some funny glasses and a weird hat. And some establishment douchebag in Hollywood was probably seeking that look for a minor character in his dumb movie, and the two whores found each other. And they banged. Oh, momma, did they bang. Money and opportunism flew out of their pockets while it was happening (oh God I'm entering a moral fervor zone, but I can't stop), and the climax was an explosion of smug insincerity.
5) I don't have a fifth reason at the moment, so check out this picture.
You might reasonably ask why I'm writing about Judah Friedlander. Why now? What happened? Well, last night at around 7pm, I decided to take a walk. It had been a long day. I went downtown, wandered into some shops, and got an ice cream. Then I came home. As I crossed my front lawn, I heard a strange sound coming from the side of the house. I paused, walked over, and saw something I will never forget:
Judah Friedlander was raping my dog.
No, I'm kidding. That didn't really happen. I don't even have a dog. I also don't have a house or a front lawn. And God knows I don't take walks. What actually happened was that I was reading one of my favorite websites, Deadspin, and they had a post about Judah Friedlander's agent contacting them hoping to publicize his new book. It's called 'How to make a cheap buck in the entertainment industry by co-opting a dry fashion statement and feigning talent in the face of its total absence.' Or, as the publisher and Judah Friedlander are calling it, 'How to Beat Up Anyone.'
Here's the pitch from the agent, with a description of the book:
On October 5th, I'm publishing stand-up comic and "30 Rock" star Judah Friedlander's satirical karate guide HOW TO BEAT UP ANYBODY. Step-by-step, kick-by-kick, grunt-by-grunt, Friedlander teaches his techniques for crushing all kinds of assailants-muggers, three-armed attackers, Bigfoots, ninjas, dinosaurs, even ninjas riding on the backs of dinosaurs-and having stamina to spare for partying with a bunch of babes. To make mastering his mind-boggling moves easy for weak readers, he provides lots of pictures- more than 500 color photos along with original drawings and an action-packed flipbook!
Let's take that piece by piece, shall we?
On October 5th, I'm publishing stand-up comic and "30 Rock" star Judah Friedlander's satirical karate guide HOW TO BEAT UP ANYBODY.
Perfect title for Judah Friedlander. Absolutely perfect. It's got that uber-simple flatness that's defined his character for an entire career. I mean, the title might as well be a trucker's hat with 'World Champion' on it. You're supposed to read it and think 'oh man, that's funny...I think.' Except, it's not. It's easy, and it's dumb. It takes no ingenuity or intelligence to come up with a concept like that. The idea of a satirical karate guide is essentially the same implied attack on an imagined establishment that you get from his 'look.' Get it, everyone? We're making fun of people who do karate, or who publish actual how-to guides, or who want to try hard at anything. It's getting by on a conceit: fat, counter-culture dude acts like he's an entrepreneurial phony. The real beauty of this scam, I probably don't need to tell you, is that Judah Friedlander is an entrepreneurial phony. I'm getting more and more angry just reading that title.
Step-by-step, kick-by-kick, grunt-by-grunt, Friedlander teaches his techniques for crushing all kinds of assailants-muggers, three-armed attackers, Bigfoots, ninjas, dinosaurs, even ninjas riding on the backs of dinosaurs-and having stamina to spare for partying with a bunch of babes.
Snore. 'Ninjas riding on the backs of dinosaurs' reminds me of what's his face...Maddox, or something. That angry guy with the website everyone read ten years ago. By which I mean that Judah Friedlander is a fucking hack. Judah Friedlander is a fat ninja who rides on the back of old dinosaur internet memes.
To make mastering his mind-boggling moves easy for weak readers, he provides lots of pictures- more than 500 color photos along with original drawings and an action-packed flipbook!
Wow, are there really 500 color photos? Do they exist to provide cover for the fact that Judah Friedlander is even less funny in print than in person? Can we just call '500 color photos' a trucker's hat, and 'an action-packed flipbook' oversized glasses? How many questions can I ask in a row? Can I fight Judah Friedlander in a really small ring? Would Judah Friedlander kick my ass? Would that be the most embarrassing thing that could happen to me in this world? Would it be worse than that time I got caught accidentally trying on my grandmother's wedding dress? What?
After reading the description of his new book, I gave Judah Friedlander a call, recorded our conversation, and transcribed it.
Me: Hi Judah, it's Shane.
Judah Friedlander: I'm sorry, who is this?
Me: I'm with the media, blog division.
Judah Friedlander: Oh, okay, let me put on my personality. One moment. (Ten seconds pass) UH-DUHHHHHHHHHHH.
Me: Hmmm. I have a question: do you agree that your book sucks?
Judah Friedlander: Uhhhhh, dude....
Me: I mean, the karate and ninja shit...isn't that really phony? Aren't you too old to be still doing this whole ironic persona? I knew people like you in college, and I hated them, but I'll admit that I had my own little personality quirks in college that were probably really fucking annoying. Still, I'm over them now, and I think all those other people are too. What's your deal?
Judah Friedlander: UHHHHH...
Me: Are you afraid that if you try to do something interesting, or actually funny without the disguise of this image, that the world will find you out? That you'll discover the unfriendly face of the planet and be backed into a corner? That nobody will like you without your trucker hat and glasses? That nobody will be interested in Judah Friedlander the human being?
Judah Friedlander: DUDDDDEEEEE....
Me: Because let me tell you, Judah, that's bullshit. You take away from the world with this stuff. Please hold on for a moment while I start playing some climactic music on my cd player in the background- thank you. (The music is the 'Last of the Mohicans' theme song.) Where was I? Oh yes- you actively take from the world. Not only do you deprive us of whatever creativity and spirit you might contribute, but you teach people that the way to go about living is to camouflage themselves, to assume the worst about people and to hunker down into defensive little bunkers. You show us that the way to the top is by forming little foxholes, or going on pre-emptive strikes in order to establish tenuous footholds through affectation, cynicism, and yes, cruelty.
Judah Friedlander: MANNNNNN....
Me: I would hazard a guess that you have had a negative effect on our culture, Judah. I know that's a harsh thing to say, but what do you goes beyond sucking. A lot of people suck, but they can bring some good to the world. You suck in a very contrived and negative way. You try to distinguish yourself through an imagined hipster sophistication, and you divide the world. You divide the culture. You divide human beings.
Judah Friedlander: (adjusts glasses, changes to a different trucker's hat)
Me: I mean, we're only on this planet once, man. It's a hard place. We all know it. So what are you up to? What the fuck are you even up to?
Me: Do you think anyone will buy your book?
Judah Friedlander: No.
That was an eye-opener. So next time you think about liking Judah Friedlander, remember: he's bullshit. He just is. This last picture of him will, I hope, say it all. It's a plain look at a person who has spent his entire life in costume side by side with someone we'll never know. Judah Friedlander, you could do better.