I love stand-up comedy. I love it. I could watch it constantly.
I took an acting class in college, it fulfilled some BS graduation requirement, and one of the only things I remember from it was the professor stating that theater monologues are the most difficult aspect of acting. Her rationale was the actor had nothing to use; no other actors, and usually minimal props. The actor had to continue to captivate the audience with nothing but their instrument.
This same theory applies to stand-up comedy, with two added difficulties. The “monologue” lasts for hours and you have to make the audience laugh the entire time. I am quite mesmerized by great, even “just” good stand-up comedians, because when they have an ability to captivate their audience for two hours with a one-way conversation…that’s talent.
That being said, I’ve realized something about many stand-up comics, if not most humor. It is that most of the time it is really comedy in delivery only. When I laugh at a stand-up comedian, it is because I fully agree with the half-truth or whole-truth of what they are saying and I find their ability to take a serious issue and deliver it in comedic way, not just hilarious but near-genius.
I am laughing at their delivery.
There is nothing new about this, it is not an epiphany on my part. Most jokes are based on stereotypes, which are based on reality or popular perception. I’ve been watching some old comedy — Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison, George Carlin, Richard Pryor — and I find myself laughing most at Pryor. Not only because he has more talent than the other three combined, but because the generational humor (especially for someone of my ideological leanings), is easier to laugh at coming from someone who has lived it.
Recently, I posted this video on my Facebook page, it is about the ridiculousness of Disney movies. Jenna Marbles is a hilarious YouTube artist that has recently gotten some national exposure. I would love to see her be the next Bo Burnham, but with actual success. I rant about Disney all the time, saying the same stuff, but people look at me like I’m crazy. Mainly, because I tell family that if they ever let my daughter watch a “Princess” movie, I will go totally Hannibal Lecter on them. Dark humor often falls on deaf ears.
I was watching Chris Rock the other night, and he has a great rant about how the government hates rap, because they’ve never solved a case involving a murdered rapper. As an agnostic, for everything that annoys me about Bill Maher, I love his stark admonition on the hypocrisies of religion. Finally, as an overly passionate politico, I pretty much love everything that comes out of the mouth of Lewis Black. I love my ass off to his comedy, because it is filled with truths and half-truths.
There was a movie with Robin Williams, which we all know was based on the dream of many that Jon Stewart run for President, where a comedian runs for the office and wins but due to computer voting does not win the election. The movie is more about why we cannot move to electronic computer voting, but that’s another rant entirely.
So many Americans are frustrated with politicians and their filtered speeches, their every move being orchestrated…as if they are on stage. What if an intelligent stand-up comic ran for office, and their entire campaign was a stand-up tour? I mean, when the Congressional approval rating sits at 17% and our President has an approval rating of 38%, it is hard to think that this couldn’t work, at least in theory.
We all love comedy, and whether we admit it or not, we laugh because we either agree or at least see the truth/half-truths in what they are saying. You know that Jon Stewart could pull in a youth vote turnout never seen before and probably get 20% of the electorate (which would be more than Ross Perot). While the LSD and probable anger stroke any day now, Lewis Black is a smart dude. Bill Maher has a following, but he couldn’t get more than 5%, because he has literally offended more human being at one point or another — whether his offensive is true or not.
Imagine George Carlin running for President and his entire campaign being a stand-up tour? Carlin/Pryor in 1976 would’ve changed the world (for the record, I’m laughing my ass off right now, so if you are taking me too seriously, you should just turn on Bill Maher, then you both can revel in the ten-foot pole you have up your ass).
This is just another one of my rambling thoughts. It would be fun if it happened though.