Unsolicited Endorsements XVIII

Comedy Crush: Aubrey Plaza

Tom Haverford is my favorite character on Parks and Recreation. This has to be the case because Aziz Ansari is currently the funniest person on the planet. But lately, I haven’t been able to get enough of April, of Aubrey Plaza, especially after I found her user name on YouTube.*

*That sounded kind of sketchy. I SWEAR I am not stalking Aubrey Plaza.

She’s uploaded only three videos, and all are from about five years ago, before Parks and Rec, before Funny People. One is her doing a spot-on Sara Silverman impression, another features her comedy troupe spoofing the terrible MTV show, “Next,” and another is her playing a forest hag in a video book report for her sister. Yes, Aubrey Plaza is helping her little sister with a video for a book report. Yes, the Internet is awesome, and so is Plaza.

Some context: Plaza was auditioning for SNL around this time, or so she mentions in the description for the Sara Silverman impression. So, about the same time she was trying out for the best comedy show in American history, she was still helping out a younger sibling with a school project.

Once you watch these, read this piece in Grantland about the friendly atmosphere of the Parks and Rec cast, and you can imagine that not very much has changed for Plaza since then despite her fame. – Mark Dent

Album: The Hold Steady – “Boys and Girls in America”

I didn’t “get” The Hold Steady until this past year, and now I’m trying to make up for those lost years by putting all of their albums in constant rotation, especially this one. I really can’t believe it took me this long to warm up to The Hold Steady. They write straightforward songs that take their cues from some of the most popular artists in recent memory (namely Bruce Springsteen). The Brooklyn-via-Minneapolis band plays no frills rock, with rough-around-the-edges vocals to match. Maybe I was trying too hard to hear the “indie” half of the “indie-rock” descriptor to realize the greatness in each of these perfectly crafted songs. If you don’t “get” The Hold Steady, give “Boys and Girls in America” a listen. Don’t think about what you’re hearing. That part comes later, when you sit and dissect singer Craig Finn’s brilliantly loose and literary lyrics. Just sit and listen in the absence of your brain, taking in the sounds with your pulse and your nodding head and your tapping foot. The Hold Steady play some damn good rock n’ roll. – Asher Fusco

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