Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wanna watch ‘Miami Vice’? has the first two seasons of “Miami Vice” online for your viewing pleasure.

Young’uns who don’t remember “Vice” might wonder what all the fuss was about. I kinda wonder that too.

I’ve embedded a 1984 episode, “Cool Runnin’,” at the bottom of this page. You can stream and watch it right here. It was written by Joel Surnow, who later made his fortune as co-creator of “24.”

But what’s really interesting about this episode? It features Charlie Barnett as “Noogie,” a small-time hustler and snitch. Barnett parlayed that role into a semi-regular gig on “Vice.”

His performance raises a question as to the difference between “cooning” and “clowning.” I say Charlie Barnett was a gifted clown. And he was obviously doing a lot of improvising in this episode... to the very end, when he breaks out with some “Rapper’s Delight.”

Barnett, who died of AIDS in 1996, made his reputation performing in New York City parks. He come close getting hired for “Saturday Night Live” in 1980... but the “black” slot went to Eddie Murphy instead. The rest is pop-culture history.

Charlie Barnett did have an impact on comedy, though. Dave Chappelle thought so highly of him, he tried to get a movie made based on Barnett’s life.

Embedded below is vintage video of Barnett in his natural habitat: Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. It’s broad humor, yes, but the man knew how to work a crowd. Check him out...


fishesalot said...

I checked out the clip, had some funny points, but mostly it's the same old sh...

It's good to be able to laugh at ourselves, but then too, theres a fine line between clowning, bafooning, shuckin and jivin, cooning, ...paths to bamboozlment?

While I'm lauging, I'm also wondering how much of this stuff just makes it easier for folks to feel comfortable with not purging false/destruction stereotypes they harbor?'s all to complex to figure out I reckon,

...but then, ..snap! that shit is funny



Undercover Black Man said...

^ Hey fishes. How do you feel about Chappelle?

fishesalot said...


That motherf.. the bizz-omb!!!.

At first I felt he was a sell-out, but then I noticed that he had moments of genius - the Black Bush, Mos Def with the WMD yellow cake, the Blind Black Klansman, Nigga Dommas, etc., cap that he's a DC homey - I gotta support.

So, ..he grew on me and I learned to accept or wait out, his cooning/bafooning/tom-fooling/sell... in hopes of witnessing those random gems of comic brilliance that he delivers at times.

Now, ...he can be very raw sometimes, borderline f'd up - the veneral disease puppets the with Snoop D. cameo. wordup?

But, ...all in all,

..he calls it,

plus, ...that shit is funny!

Peace out bro UMB!

Bklyn6 said...

I saw his picture an immediately thought: "DIDN'T HE DO PORN!? I remember him as an actor, but seriously, I think he did porn. I also think he was a character on some Saturday morning Sid & Marty Krofft-type show; a guy named "C.C." And I think I saw him in Washington Sq. Park once (or was it Dave Chappelle?).

I hope I'm not misspeaking.

Undercover Black Man said...

Michael Fisher put this in a different thread, but I'm copying it here:

"... I knew Charlie quite well. That crack drove him crazy. but he was probably the funniest comedian you ever saw. It is thanks to Charlie's drug habit and the resulting erratic behavior that Eddie Murphy got his chance to shine. If Charlie had kept his appointments - history would look quite different."

Bklyn6 said...

Dayum! I pulled an MBP! It was John Anthony Bailey and not Charlie Barnett who played "C.C." on that Sid and Marty Krofft Show "Wonderbug." Bailey was the porn star. Sorry, Charlie. :-(

Okay, but I still think I saw Barnett in Wash. Sq. Park.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ I had a feeling Charlie wasn't no porno star. ;^D

Dan Coyle said...

I've got the first two seasons on DVD, but damn, despite the dated-ness of some things, it's still a good show, particularly when "Golden Triangle" starts and Castillo enters the picture.

I remember after seeing the Battlestar Galactica miniseries in 2003, I told a friend living in England at the time: "I liked it, but you'll love it."


"Because, dude, It's Castillo. In Space."

Anonymous said...

Crack/base/rock/caine, took some of the best, and some of the worst. Good thing cloudbuster never took hold past NY.

Is it that folks on rock just get mad funny, or is it that the mad funny dudes end up on rock?

Michael Fisher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Fisher said...

Yeah, it's the same old same old humor now, but then Charlie was pretty innovative. Of course I met him in Washington Square park (I was trying to see whether I was in the audience in that clip). The last time I saw him was at a performance at the Uptown Comedy Club where he promised us all that he was and would stay clean. Of course he didn't as far as I know.

He told me once that he hated the constrictions of show business and preferred to perform in the parks. The money was good enough. Much of the time I knew him he was homeless, too.

But there was really no way to help him. He just wouldn't show up as promised.

He also had the biggest fuckin' finger nails I've ever seen.

New York was a different place then.

james said...

Man I loved that show.. fuck I am 36 and that used to make not feel so bad on friday night if I was a loser and had to stay in and watch it..
Noogs was a fuckedup character just on that clip alone.. but fuck it.. who hasn't lived in the hood and not know a fool like that..
I work in a divy bar now and know a white sucka just like him.. Life Is What It Is!!!

A. Charles said...

I didn't like Miami Vice at first.

That's when I sat down in front of the TV, watching it hard, and expected it to be a second Hill Street Blues.

But then I caught a couple episodes as glimpses in the wallpaper -- the TV was just on as I was getting ready to go out on Friday night. I wasn't watching too hard or too close -- just enough to catch a peek at a Ferrari Daytona here, some pastel wardrobe or architecture there, or to hear some of the soundtrack. I'd put the razor down and stroll over to watch up close if Olivia Brown or the celebrity cameo of the week (Phil Collins, Roberto Duran, for example) was on screen.

And as wallpaper/background noise/extended music video, it was brilliant. Once I realized it was a complement to Friday Night Videos instead of Hill Street Blues, I appreciated it perfectly well.

The Noog Man was coonin, as far as I was concerned. The way I distinguish that from clownin' is that I see the latter as broad comedy, while I see the former as broad comedy that plays right into stereotypes of black folks (without using them to make some larger point, the way I see Chappelle doing).

Here's the thing, though: coonin' can be funny. And Charlie Barnett sure was funny as Noogie. After I'd seen vice, gotten ready, and hit the night life, me and whoever would recount some of his schtick, laugh, and then shake our heads -- Noogie wasn't who we were trying to be, or who were trying to look like, (I'm remembering his wedding) but we sure could recognize him in folks we knew.

Undercover Black Man said...

Here's the thing, though: coonin' can be funny.

True. A complicated truth. Thanks for that.

michael a. gonzales said...

...years ago the village voice wrote a story that said that charlie couldn't read, and that was the reason he was passed over by saturday night live.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Hey Michael. Welcome!

michael a. gonzales said...

...thanks man. love this site so much.

Aure232 said...

Hugely clubbed fingers, guy had a probable underlying disease.