Little Richard embodied rock’s boundary-pushing

Assorted ramblings from world of entertainment:

l I was sad to hear about the death of Little Richard over the weekend at age 87.

I give Chuck Berry the edge over Little Richard as the true king of rock ‘n’ roll, mainly because rock ‘n’ roll was born holding an electric guitar, not a piano. But no one embodied rock’s boldness, brashness and boundary-pushing better than Richard Wayne Penniman.

My favorite Little Richard memory is from 1998, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled its new inductee film and hall of fame wing. The dais included several inductees for the ribbon cutting ceremony, including Ike Turner, Bo Diddley, Michelle Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas), Ruth Brown and Joe Walsh.

Ten minutes into the ceremony, Little Richard made a grand entrance, waving his arms and shouting, “They can’t do it without me. They can’t do it without the architect.”

Little Richard also gave a memorable performance at the Rock Hall opening weekend concert in 1995 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. At that point in his career, Little Richard primarily was playing 2,000-seat venues, and it was obvious that he relished the opportunity to strut for 60,000 people that night.

l This week’s binging featured a lot of comedy, or at least a several shows featuring people known for comedy.

I finally watched the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize special honoring Dave Chappelle on Netflix, which is wonderfully entertaining.

Chappelle’s friends and contemporaries — Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman, Neal Brennan, Aziz Ansari — honor (and gently roast) the comedian. The scenes from the ceremony are intercut with clips of Chappelle’s set at at Washington, D.C., comedy club that same weekend.

Frankly, there were more laughs in the Kennedy Center tribute than there were in Chappelle’s last couple of Netflix specials.

Jerry Seinfeld’s first standup special in more than 20 years debuted last week on Netflix. The first half has some masterful bits that aspiring comedians should study for the precision of the language and the rhythm of his delivery. The topics are nothing groundbreaking — texting, restaurants, the reduction of commentary to “It’s great” or “It sucks.” The magic is in the craftsmanship and the presentation.

The second half, focusing on marriage and family, doesn’t have the same impact, but it was fun to laugh about the small things for an hour rather than dwelling on the big health and economic concerns of today.

I feel sorry for anyone who clicks on Netflix’s “Cracked Up: The Darrell Hammond Story” expecting a comedy special.

Hammond is known for his masterful impressions of Bill Clinton, Chris Matthews and more than 100 other public figures he portrayed during his tenure on “Saturday Night Live.” There are glimpses of those characters, but “Cracked Up” is a harrowing documentary chronicles his history of mental issues — stints in nine mental institutions, addiction issues, self-mutilation, once being removed from an “SNL” rehearsal in a straitjacket — and the horrific childhood experiences that are the root of those problems.

Directed by Michelle Esrick, “Cracked Up” isn’t easy to watch, but it’s an excellent film.

Andy Gray is the entertainment editor for Ticket. Write to him at agray@ tribtoday.com


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