The Rundown: Welcome To The Golden Age Of Phallic Shenanigans

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — I am so proud of everyone

One of the things we do here at The Rundown is analyze trends. We did this just last week, actually, when we addressed the recent string of television characters suffering heart attacks and other health crises while riding a Peloton. That was fun. And strange. But important. It’s good to note these kinds of things when they happen because you can see little themes develop, either on purpose or through a set of happy accidents. This is why it brings me such pleasure to welcome all of you to what I have decided to call the Golden Age of Phallic Shenanigans.

This all started, if not chronologically then at least spiritually, with the release of Pam & Tommy on Hulu this week. Have you started watching Pam & Tommy yet? I hope so. It is weird and a little trashy and surprisingly sympathetic to Pamela Anderson, which feels deserved at this point, even if Pamela herself is understandably not too thrilled about it all. It also, and I must stress here that I am not making any of this up, features an extended scene where an Ecstasy-fueled Tommy Lee has a full-on conversation with his penis, which is controlled by puppeteers and voiced by Jason Mantzoukas.

Here, look. I would never lie to you.

tommy dick

Yup. Happened. There are numerous close-ups of the puppeteered penis moving as it speaks, to signify agreement and disagreement and all of it. It is honestly remarkable. And the voice casting is perfect. Jason Mantzoukas is a maniac and has been for years, dating back to his role as Rafi on The League and extending through his role as Derek on The Good Place. And now, he’s the voice of a world-famous penis. I’m so happy for him.

Entertainment Weekly has a deeper dive.

The idea to bring that to life on Pam & Tommy was just too good to pass up. While the show’s tone is set firmly in reality (albeit one stranger than fiction), they knew Tommy’s penis had to voice its thoughts in at least one scene, playing the devil on his … well, groin. “We could get away with it because he was high on Ecstasy at that time,” Siegel says. “I felt like that gave us the green light. I like to think that could have actually happened — at least, in his mind. It was fun to write and not terribly hard; imagining what Tommy Lee’s dick would say is pretty fertile material.”

There’s also a section in there on the logistics of it all, which I am including both because it fascinates me and because I want them to win a special effects Emmy for this. That would be great. Consider this me starting that campaign now.

Designed by Autonomous FX and operated by Mike McCarty and Dave Snyder, the talking penis came to life via a combination of mostly practical effects with some added CG. “As a Star Wars fan, I’m partial to the animatronic puppet Yoda, the Frank Oz version, over the prequel’s CGI Yoda — I just prefer, as I think most people do, things that are better done practically,” Siegel says. “From the start, we always wanted it to be an animatronic dick.” Siegel pauses before adding, “Most of these sentences have never been uttered. But we had a guy build us an animatronic talking dick and they strapped it on Sebastian, and I hope to God we got behind-the-scenes footage of that day.”

This is delightful. Truly a banner moment in television history. Think of all the great shows of the past: The Sopranos, I Love Lucy, Cheers. Not a single talking penis in any of them. We are breaking ground here.

Speaking of breaking things, Jackass Forever premieres this weekend. This is good news on a number of fronts but mostly because it allows me to share this GIF again.


Some notes:

  • I am a reasonably bright person who has thoughts about lots of serious issues but this is still maybe the funniest thing I’ve ever seen
  • Johnny Knoxville’s reaction
  • The fist pump

This, to me, is cinema. And it’s not the only nut-pulverizing in the movie. Not by a long shot. From a feature in The Hollywood Reporter, a legitimate trade magazine that covers the industry and quoted someone as saying “his nuts are bleeding” in the paragraph prior to this.

Speaking of genitalia, the series’ fascination with them could provide fodder for a team of dedicated psychoanalysts. Nothing seems to turn on these overgrown male adolescents more than having their penises and testicles exposed and tortured, over and over again. The nut-crushing stunts performed in this edition are far too numerous to describe in detail, but mention must be made of Steve-O, who allows a swarm of bees to sting his nether regions. Indeed, there’s so much full-frontal male nudity on display that you wonder whether the performers are either very comfortable in their masculinity or precisely the opposite.

Perfect. All of it. Jackass is one of those things that straddles the line between stupid and brilliant, an honest-to-God time capsule of turn-of-the-century suburban angst and boredom crossed with the most powerful Dudes Rock energy of any project in history, with a dash of horrifying bodily harm. Put it in the Smithsonian. I am barely joking. I might not be joking at all. Jackass explains the last 25 years of American history better than any book ever could, for better and worse, but mostly for better. Blammo, right in the beans.

And somehow, against staggering odds, these weren’t the only two examples of phallic shenanigans this week. There was also this, from The Afterparty, a very good show.


The backstory here is barely important but I’ll provide some of it anyway. Two characters are having a literal pissing contest. A showdown to see who can pee longest and strongest. A macho competition where urine is a stand-in for ego and success and virility. I won’t tell you who wins. I will, however, laugh at the screencap forever. This is a good deal. For me. Watch The Afterparty.

So, there you have it. Three examples. This is officially a trend. I am so happy for and proud of everyone involved. Especially all the penises. Big week for them.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — I will go to staggering lengths to remind everyone about these videos, but this one is a layup

A couple of important things happened this week:

  • Seth Meyers had David Letterman on his show to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Late Night, the show Letterman created and passed to Conan and then Fallon and then Meyers himself
  • Jeff Zucker stepped down as top banana at CNN after coming clean about an ongoing relationship with a colleague

Two events, both notable, both involving powerful dudes, one featuring a story about a beaver biting a wildlife expert, but seemingly, mostly unrelated. Things aren’t always as they seem, though. Sometimes there’s a hidden thread that links them together. If you read those bullet points carefully, you already got a pretty decent hint. Or maybe you figured it out right away. Good for you, if you did. Don’t spoil it for everyone else, though.

Okay, we hop in our time machine and head back to 2010. “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga is shooting up the charts. Instagram and the iPad both debut. The Double Rainbow guy was everywhere. And over on NBC, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien were battling over The Tonight Show, thanks in no small part to a pretty powerful blundering of the whole situation by an NBC executive named… Jeff Zucker.

The details aren’t worth rehashing here, at least not in this paragraph. There’s a good book about it if you have a few hours to kill and a decent Wikipedia page about it if you have a few minutes to kill. The important thing here, and the reason I bring it up, is that the chaos of it all made David Letterman very, very happy. Letterman had his own history with NBC. There’s a book and Wikipedia page about that, too. And it all built to a head and led to one of the best runs in late-night television history.

We got now to YouTube. I will not post all of the videos. I will post a few of them, though. Watch these sometime this weekend. Watch how much fun Letterman is having, the little mischievous twinkle in his eye. This is a man who is alive.

My favorite part of all of this is that he’s doing this just sitting at his desk, riffing, with nothing resembling an actual script to go off of, and it’s still massively compelling television. That’s a little astounding. The man was basically hosting a podcast on video and it was the most riveting thing on television. It was thrilling. I watched all the clips again this week — there are like 10, total — and I was blown away all over again.

David Letterman. Pretty good at television. You heard it here first.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — This is freakin’ adorable

Abbott Elementary is a good show. We have discussed this. And I’m not just saying that because it’s set in Philadelphia and they literally rolled out an Eagles blanket a few episodes ago. (Go Birds.) The freshman comedy about an inner-city public school is smart and sweet and funny and a lot of things network comedies were a few years ago and have increasingly not been lately. I like it a lot. Watch it with your family or by yourself or with a stranger. Again, it’s good.

The show’s creator and star, Quinta Brunson, was on Kimmel this week. During her appearance, Kimmel surprised her with a video chat call-in from one of Brunson’s own teachers, Mrs. Abbott, who she named the fictional school in the show after. And it was, well, adorable. Just cute and wholesome and nice and kind of not what anyone would have expected 20 years ago from the guy who created Crank Yankers, but still. Watch that video. It feels good. And watch Abbott Elementary, too.

I say this to you for all the reasons mentioned above and in the link but also so you’ll have context for this screencap…

abbott trash3

… and these two…

abbott trash1
abbott trash2

… which you can expect to see a lot in the next few months if you follow me on Twitter.

Feel free to save these and use them yourself. They’re quite versatile.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — An incomplete list of celebrities who I suspect know how to make a good pot of chili, based on nothing but feel

keanu dolly
Getty Image

Keanu Reeves (probably cooks up a big pot for like landscapers and carpenters who do work on his house)
Dolly Parton
Danny McBride
Denzel Washington (does not let you in the kitchen)
Meryl Streep
Any NFL lineman (offense, not defense)
The Rock
Judy Greer
Craig Robinson
Samuel L. Jackon
Paul Giamatti (spicier than you expect)
Yosemite Sam
Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill (but NOT Seth Rogen)
Maya Rudolph
Tom Cruise (decided one day six months ago that he wanted to learn and did not sleep until he perfected it)
Regina King
Jimmy Kimmel
Any musician who weighs over, oh, let’s say 225 pounds
Big Boi from OutKast, regardless of weight
Danny DeVito
Matthew McConaughey
Margo Martindale
Florence Pugh (is there anything she can’t do?)
Former Seattle Mariner legend Ichiro Suzuki
Nick Offerman
Jessica Chastain, surprisingly
Jamie Foxx

This list will be updated as new information comes in.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Hey, look, a show for Brian…

This is a sketch from Mr. Show. I share it now for two primary reasons: One, because Mr. Show was awesome and I will post sketches from it sometimes just because it makes me feel good; and two, because the creators and stars of Mr. Show, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, just announced a new show they’re doing together for Paramount Plus, and it sounds like some Extremely Brian Stuff.

Via Deadline:

The series will see Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk and Arrested Development star Cross as rival cult gurus manipulating the minds of their deluded followers.

It will be directed by Jason Woliner, who directed Borat 2.

It’s kind of wild to track the careers of these two dudes. Mr. Show started a bunch of careers and altered the course of sketch comedy in a substantial way. Cross was an important figure on Arrested Development (an all-time great comedy) and did some stuff on the cutting edge of political humor. Odenkirk has mentored like half of your favorite alternative comedians (there’s a reason he’s in I Think You Should Leave like once a season), appeared in Breaking Bad and starred in Better Call Saul (two all-time great dramas), and just recently starred in Nobody, a John Wick-style action movie from the writer of John Wick where he got to say this line of dialogue.

nnobody kitty cat

And now, like 30 years later, they’re still making ambitious weirdo comedies together on streaming services that have only existed for a few years. That’s… cool. It’s cool. I’m happy for them. And happy for me, too, because this show looks awesome. I’m happy for everyone, really. I guess that’s my point.


If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

From Paul:

Brian. BRIAN. Who do we think Jason Momoa is playing in the Fast & Furious universe? Villain? Member of the Family? Villain who later becomes a member of the Family? John Cena is already Dominic Toretto’s evil secret brother. Could Jason Momoa be The Rock’s secret evil brother? What if he’s playing a senator who has nothing to do with crime and is just trying to stop the international crime wave caused by Dominic Toretto and his assorted friends and enemies? How has Jason Momoa not been in a Fast & Furious movie until now? How excited are you about all of this?

We know your stance on Jason Momoa, after all.

See, what I like about this email is that Paul covered all the bases. He provided context. He asked some good questions. He asked some completely loony questions that left me very proud of him. And he included a link to a thing I wrote, which stroked my ego just enough that I got a little fuzzy inside. And it made me remember this tweet, which is contained in the link but I had somehow still forgotten. It’s a good tweet.

The smart money here is on the “villain who eventually becomes a member of the Family,” just because that’s the general trajectory of a new character in this universe. Jason Statham tried to blow Dominic Toretto out of the Abu Dhabi sky in the seventh movie and by the end of the eighth, he was babysitting Dom’s child. These movies are not about making sense. That’s the important thing to remember here.

The complicating factor is that we are allegedly zeroing in on the end of the franchise, which very much compresses the villain-to-barbecue-invitee timeline. It’s still doable, though. Anything is possible in these movies. Ludacris and Tyrese went to space. But let’s consider something else, just to get it on the record…

Momoa spinoff.

A Jason Momoa Fast & Furious spinoff.

You can see it.

Be honest.

A new chapter.

A new Family.

The saga continues.

In space??????

Okay, maybe not. But let’s not rule it out.


To New York City!

This morning, joggers in New York’s Central Park may have come across a curious, rather illustrious sight. A cube composed of 186 kilograms of pure 24-karat gold, conceived by the German artist Niclas Castello who has billed it as a conceptual “socle du monde” (base of the world) sculpture for our time, was wheeled out to the Naumburg Bandshell this morning at around 5 a.m.

Listen to me. Listen. We have to steal this stupid gold cube. We have to. In part because they are tempting/taunting us with this, in part because it would be hilarious, and in part just on principle. People around the world are starving. Grocery prices are through the roof because of a pandemic that’s lasted two years now and has everyone a little frayed and fried. And this bozo is dropping a solid gold cube in the middle of a park as a bit.

We have to steal this.

No jury would convict us.

Although the work is not for sale, according to the artist’s team, based on the current price of gold at $1,788 per ounce, its material worth is around $11.7 million. Flanked by a heavy security detail, the 410-pound work is set to be displayed in the park until the day’s end.

Okay, the $11.7 million is a decent reason, too. We can split that up. Even chunks for all of us. But mostly it’s the principle. And the money. It’s two things.

And so, as with all things in 2022, an accompanying cryptocurrency is being launched alongside the physical artwork. The Castello Coin, traded as $CAST, is available for purchase online at an initial price of €0.39 ($0.44) each, with an accompanying NFT auction scheduled for 21 February.

Jesus Christ.

I was kind of kidding earlier but now I think I’m actually serious. We have to steal this thing. We have to come up with a plan. Stop reading here if you are the cops or the FBI. It is entrapment, probably.

My working theory is that we do a Fast Five vault heist and rope it with a car or my wheelchair and haul ass around New York with it dragging behind us and just smashing everything in its path. Like this:

fast five vault

I’m open to other ideas, though.

“The cube can be seen as a sort of communiqué between an emerging 21st-century cultural ecosystem based on crypto and the ancient world where gold reigned supreme,” says the Viennese gallerist Lisa Kandlhofer, who was in New York for the artwork’s launch.


Later tonight, the sculpture will make its way to a private dinner on Wall Street, where numerous celebrities are said to be attending.

I am livid this event already happened. There are only so many times in one’s life where one has a chance to dress up in formalwear and steal a $12 million gold cube from a bunch of vultures and creeps. This leaves us with only two options, really:

  • Steal the cube now, wherever it is
  • Build a time machine and go back to earlier this week to steal it from this gala

I’m open to either. But it has to happen. We have to restore order out here. We’re doing the world a service, really. They should be giving us an award for this. In addition to the gold cube. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable.