Kenny Powers Sheesh

Ever wonder how you’ll come back in your next life? I sometimes think that I, this over-wrought ever-apologizing caricature of delicate feelings and political correctness, might come back as Kenny Friggin’ Powers from Eastbound and Down.

“How do you find this so funny?” my husband asks as he sees me laughing at this HBO series, “you who have always hated the very idea of crude language?”

I have always hated the idea of crude language…. mostly. I really hate movies with bodily function jokes and I also hate the idea of me using crude language, so I don’t. Once, at age 19, back from college for the summer and hanging my things up in my bedroom closet, I let a double handful of wire coat hangers rattle to the floor in a wild tangle and said ‘sh__.” My mother zipped around the corner, materializing out of nowhere, to stand ashen-face before me. “Is this the kind of language my hard-earned dollars are going for?” she hissed. “To teach you language like THIS?”

That cured me for decades.

The real truth is I never could quite carry off the swearing thing. All I’ve really picked up over the years is the correct use of the word, “yo” (at the end of the sentence, for emphasis.) You also seem to use “dude” that way, as when you want to point out to someone that they’re being a baby, as in “Dude it’s a five paragraph compare-and-contrast piece. Just write it!” (I spend a lot of time helping high school kids with their homework in case that isn’t obvious.)

I hope you can view this YouTube video on your device, so you can see what I’m getting at here. This is a kind of dream sequence from Eastbound and Down with main character Kenny Powers who refers to himself in the third person with a form of the ‘f word’ for a middle name. Besides being the only clip I could find without swearing in it, it’s also a perfect illustration of one of the key elements of comedy, which is juxtaposition. Here’s this rough, egocentric former ball player now cut from the roster and trying to make a life back in his hometown as a sort of teacher’s aide at the middle school. What’s funny is the contrast between his adult cynicism and the sweetness of these pint-sized children.

This might even be the very first episode of the first season of the show which is now halfway through its third and very last season. Actor Danny McBride has done some very good straight roles too, as when he played the temporarily reluctant bridegroom with George Clooney in Up in the Air.

I guess all I’m saying is we won’t have Kenny Friggin Powers around much longer. Take off the white gloves, set down that teacup for a bit and see what you think. For the the R-rated more accurate version you can just go right to YouTube and click on almost any other scene.