Monday, October 5, 2009

Standup Comedy

Isn't standup comedy awesome!? I think it is. What is this art form all about really? Well, its an individual getting on stage and entertaining people with their thoughts about different things. It is seen as successful if there is laughter taking place. What does this laughter indicate. It indicates that the given comedians observation rings true to those people. Maybe there are exceptions to this. You might say that's just where the humor comes from with observational comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and stuff. What about comedians that play a type of character, like Andrew Dice Clay? People laugh at this sort of comedy when the comedian says something is such a way that shows an ignorant mentality that they've seen before. The comedians job is to finesse the comment so that the foolishness is apparent. This is kind of the opposite of what Seinfeld is known for. But now it must be said that Jerry might do something that's very Dice Clay and Dice Clay might do something very Seinfeld, but with either type of comedian the point is still to give the audience their perspective on reality. Now, what about somebody like Rodney Dangerfield, who's jokes go something like this. I went to the Doctor and he told me I was sick. I said I want a second opinion, and he told me "your ugly." Where's the humor here come from? Well the word "ugly" is one part of it. Its funny because its something we all relate to. None of us want to be ugly. Nobody wants to have to tell someone their ugly. Its a very mean thing, and why can't everybody be beautiful? Also there's the matter in the joke of the surprise because we expect second opinion to be taken to be taken a certain way. The doc misunderstands it and BAM...the punchline. This type of comedy is still talking about how one person sees reality. We don't wanna believe that we're sick. We don't want to be ugly, but this is put before us in a way where the obsurdity of the misunderstanding (another part of human experience) and the comedians self depreciation make us laugh because we see the truth the comedian shows and we cope with it. 

The point I'd like to get at somehow, is that standup comedy is to our culture what preaching is to Christian culture. Its more honest though. It admits its fallibility. But, you know what, its not just standup, actually. Its all humor. I think humor 
is how we talk about the truth, and laughter might be, sort of, how we verify it. Just think about it. If you make a comment among friends in everyday discussion and it gets you in trouble, and maybe it just jumped off your tongue before you thought it all the way through, its because you revealed something about how you see the world that differs sharply with how the offended person sees the world. Now, of course there are misunderstandings, but I'm saying that if you can't smooth things over by clarifying and stuff then that must be the issue.

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