Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On Comedy

I didn't write a post yesterday because… procrastination, so today I’m making up for it by writing a thousand words.
I guess this is a good time to be writing a thousand words, because I have confession to make. I have an addiction, one that is so private only my wife knows about it.
I am addicting to listening to comedy radio.
It started about 5 years ago when I get my Samsung Galaxy S1 and all of a sudden had access to THEINTERNET and 1.5 Gigs to access it. I found a streaming radio app and sampled a selection of what they had: Arabic, techno, talk back etc…
And then I found comedy radio.
I used to like and listen to certain comedians before this as well, this however intensified after finding this app and streaming it whenever I was by myself, when I’m driving long distances, and sometimes I’m on the bus or the train by myself with headphones. It eventually became so that I listen to about 15 minutes of comedy every night before I went to sleep.
I don’t know if it was the idea of control of access that was so exciting, or whether in listening to so much variety and style was giving me such an insight stand-up comedy as a craft, and the way it’s leveraged by comedians to push their respective ideologies on to the crowd.
I found some comedians resorted to the lowest common denominators such as depravity, sex, violence and vulgarity. They surprisingly had their market, because they seemed quite famous, people laughed and clapped for their performances which were at times disturbing in how low they ventured to get the most laughs. Fortunately recently I discovered there are even lower levels of humor, a friend of mine was telling me about a joke performed by some of those comedians called the aristocrats, which is so awful I have not even searched for it, and I recommend you don’t.
Another recent surprise was when Bob Saget (from Full House America’s Funniest Home Videos) came to Australia for his stand up tour. I was really excited and even looked up ticket prices because I was actually keen on going. My memories were of a naturally funny easy going performer. Thankfully my aforementioned friend recommended I watch some of Bob’s material on youtube to get a taste of his style. Oh my God it was the most awful not funny bizarre material! The only way I could explain it is that maybe his innocent father persona from Full House was losing him many roles and he decided he was going hard in the other direction.
I didn’t end up going to see his show.
I love watching the comedic performances that are based around political criticism or social insights. Comedians like George Carlin, Lewis Black, Chris Rock, Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle and others. Whose insights into society reveal the hypocrisy of the dominant culture and in doing so, cause us to both reflect and laugh. Bill Hicks was quite adapt at that, with his commentary on government and society that at some times I found I disagreed with, but I still love his humor and delivery.  
And then you have those comedians who are just funny, they aren’t known for their depravity or for their push for any certain causes, they are just very funny and thoughtful. Their humor comes almost without effort, it makes it a real pleasure to listen to them. Comedians like Dane Cook, Rodney Dangerfield (love this guy), Louis CK, Dave Chappelle (yes he gets a mention here too), Patrice O’Neill, Paul F Tompkins and others. They don’t need to yell or jump or swear or be vulgar to be funny, the humor just comes out of them, and it’s genuine and it’s powerful and its’ funny.
When it comes to local comedians in Australia. They have a lot to compete with when it comes to the global comedy scene, which I why I’m so excited and love local talent like Aamer Rahman and Nazeem Hussien. Their material is fresh, relevant, insightful and very funny. It’s a great balance of substance and delivery that reveals a real genius behind the laughs.
In the local context, their material is seen as an answer on our behalf to the powers that be; the media’s misrepresentation and vilification of minorities and the political establishment’s leveraging of this to stoke fear and win more votes. In that way they are empowering, they use their “powers” for “good” and in many cases they bear the brunt of their work and words in the media, on social media and outside comedy clubs by angry drunk men.
Humor is a thing, comedy is a thing, using humor and wisdom to address power and reveal its hypocrisy is a thing, and it’s important to support those voices and to cultivate this culture of political and social awareness in the community.
It took me the whole day to write this post. 500 words is easy to write in 15 minutes, but somehow a thousand words was a bit of a challenge, especially when I’m trying to adhere to the basic rules of #500WordsaDay of not preparing, just writing. I wrote about 600 words, and had to get started with my day job, and now I’m finishing the rest of the thousand words.
In Conclusion. Comedy is an art form that requires a keen insights into society and the power structures that control society, and it requires some great courage to stand on stage and tell jokes and risk people not laughing! It makes me nervous just thinking about it. What if people don’t laugh at your jokes!
But I digress.
953. Good enough.

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