Chandler, Arizona, United States
There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .
What Kind of Comedy Do I Do?
with love from CRS @ 9:32 AM
this entry brought to you by the flaming lips, "do you realize??"
I think about comedy a lot. I write a lot of comedy, I listen to a lot of comedy podcasts where comedians sit around and talk about comedy, I really sit and think about comedy and what makes things funny. I often think about what my comedy means and what kind of comedian I am-- believe it or not, but thinking about comedy in this very technical way actually helps me when I'm stuck. Sometimes when I'm trying to think of something, I remove myself from my head and say, okay, who am I as a comedian? What is my voice? What do I say and can I say that nobody else would say? And when I do that, often I see a route to take a joke.
All this seems like a lot for a guy with a blog that nobody reads, but still; I take comedy seriously.
I have a coworker who is about 50 years old, and his favorite comedians are Jeff Dunham and Ralphie May. He's not into comedy on the level I am, and is certainly not into the kind of comedy I am, but still, he thinks I'm funny. He asked me today, "What kind of stand-up comedy do you do?" And despite the above paragraphs about how much I think about comedy on a technical level and how often I think about what my voice is and what makes my comedy unique, when asked by a lay person in a real-life environment, my only answer was "Uhhhhh..."
So, here, is my comedy theory. I'm sure in comedy class they have something similar, but this is what I've come up with on my own, and I find that all comedy tends to branch off from these three categories:
Confessional Comedy: This is story-telling comedy where the point of view is or is supposed to be real, and the person or character is dealing with things that are funny that happened to them, or telling the story in a humorous way even though the story itself is not necessarily funny. Examples would be Richard Pryor, David Sedaris, and most low-key sitcoms such as Roseanne.
Satirical Comedy: This is comedy where you take a convention that everyone accepts as a truism, and then show that it is ridiculous. Most observational comedy tends to be satirical, and most political humor is satirical. Examples would include George Carlin, The Onion, and The Simpsons when they're really on their game.
And finally, there's Absurdist Comedy: Comedy for the sake of laughs. This is what people will often refer to as "random" comedy, but really, it's just anything that doesn't need to have a basis in anything. Examples would include Stephen Wright, The Far Side, and Monty Python.
Now, most comedians mix them all up, but almost everyone tends to lean more in one category than the others, and most of my favorite comedians are satirists. A lot of people, for example, say that Pryor is their favorite comedian, but I'm more a Carlin guy. Hicks is one of my heroes, and the two of those guys loved silly absurd jokes, but their most famous bits are basically modern satire defined.
I tend to think that my comedy is about taking bullshit concepts that people take as true and pointing out how bullshit they are. Which isn't to say I'm the edgiest, most rebellious motherfucker on the planet-- one of my favorite jokes I've ever written is that someone with a peanut allergy was declared to have gone into "extra crunchy" anaphylactic shock-- but I think my favorite type of comedy is to say "This is nonsense. Look how much nonsense this is."