Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Random Musings on Comedy

Upcoming Comedy
Friday, December 5 - PRIVATE FUNCTION, Drayton Valley
Saturday, December 6 - PRIVATE FUNCTION, Edmonton
Saturday, December 13 - PRIVATE FUNCTION, Edmonton
Monday, December 15 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton

Upcoming Writing
Living articles in the Edmonton Journal
Friday, January 2
Current article can be found here.

Other Appearances
World War Wrestling - Friday, December 12 - Fulton Place Community League POSTPONED UNTIL JANUARY

Dan's musings on shyness and relationships can be found at hotchicksandstrangers.blogspot.com

Dan's Wrestling Blog is here

I got into an argument a couple days ago with another comic. We were arguing over whether an out-of-town headliner was any good.

It should have been an easy question. I found the comic in question unwatchable for anything longer than two or three minutes at a time. It was my least favorite kind of comedy: empty calorie comedy based on cheerleading, energy, and stock premises coupled with relentless shilling for merchandise.

It wasn't to my taste, but I had a hard time saying it was bad.

Maybe it’s because I’m wishy-washy and conflict averse.

Or maybe it’s because--at the end of the day--the crowd ate up this headliner with a fork and spoon. They loved the show.

That’s something.

After all, being able to keep and audience involved and interested in a 100% content-free performance (not to mention having them buy your merchandise afterwards) takes a lot of talent. And let’s face it, if you want to be a stand-up comic, but you can’t write and you won’t steal, you don‘t have a lot of options left.

This is one of the interesting things about comedy culture. It values originality and innovation over doing what has worked in the past.

The wrestling business tends towards the opposite end of the spectrum. In wrestling, you’re encouraged to learn from everybody, whether you like what they do or not.
They also encourage wrestlers to learn how to work using a lot of stock stuff first and concern themselves with “getting their own shit in” or doing something different only AFTER they’ve mastered the fundamentals.

A lot of it has to do with the nature of the art. In comedy, you’re on your own. In wrestling, you’re working with other guys. So it’s only natural, wrestling would be more conservative about “going into business for yourself.”

Wrestling is pragmatic--the best wrestler in the world is the guy who sells the most tickets. Period.

Comedy, on the other hand, doesn’t judge itself on whether or not the crowd liked it. Heck, sometimes comics give the most props to guys who go out of their way to alienate the audience.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

I don’t know. I believe that each performer has to decide for his- or herself. I also believe that no one else has the right to judge them for their choice. Just because you or I doesn’t like something doesn’t make it bad.

Besides, I have no control over what someone else does in their act. When it comes to show business, like it or not, the only thing I have power over is our own performance.

Whether I like it or not.

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