Monday, June 26, 2006

Comedy Sahara

Recently I went to the movies to see 'The Break-up' and I came out thinking it was one of the funniest movies to come out in the past few months. Then I caught myself and thought, "was it really that funny?". Have we collectively lowered the bar for humorous entertainment? Then taking a step back and surveying the landscape of comedic vehicles that are produced, things look stagnant. If it hadn't been for Vince Vaughn, that movie would have floundered and the same argument could have been made for 'Wedding Crashers'. Have you seen the coming attractions for 'Little Man'? Damon Wayans' career must be rolling over in its grave. Disgruntled, I went on a two week Lewis & Clark voyage for reliable yucks.

I started out by making my way to see some "comedians" live at a local NYC comedy stop. First they charge you like you are getting the works at a Chinese massage parlor from the best girl imported straight from Nagano. Cheapness aside it was time for them to pony up and put me in stitches. The sets consisted of two types, those just getting stuff off their chest or acts where you could tell they really really tried to perfect their craft. This was like putting sprinkles on dog shit. What even annoyed me further was the fact that the majority of comedians were in the bar area hanging out like acting like they should have been separated from us by a velvet rope. The only rope that should be involved with them is a nylon one, looped around their necks. Each one of them hoping every new patron was a hack comedian groupie or exec scouting them from NBC, UPN or PAX. The hunger for fame is almost deafening when you walk in to these types of places. Needless to say the comedy was no where near being up to par and in my fun things to do log, I ranked it slightly above the time I got my ball sack stuck in a neighbor's garage door. This was a far cry from the days when on a consistent basis Dave Attell, George Wallace, Brian Regan and a slew of other talent would be regulars on the NYC club circuit.

Other research was less time consuming and much more cost efficient. This portion was devoted to electronic mediums. In the TV category, CSPAN was at the top of the list when it came to entertainment for running highlights of former Ohio Senator James Traficant. CBS offered a program with Doogie Howser trying to be the alpha male then came on a show with Charlie Sheen and a poor imitation of the Man Show Boy. I would rather clean a White Castle bathroom at 4am than watch these programs for a second time. Other shows that actually do give me hope are the obvious ones like Family Guy, Late Night, Extras and The Soup. Throw in a Robot Chicken and Andy Milonakis and if you like that type of humor, you might turn off the gas and take your head out of the oven. A major untapped resource that has been growing is the old public access channels, which are amazing. Give it a chance and you will see its like the slow kid in class that is pushing the envelope trying to make everyone laugh so he can finally have friends show up at his birthday party. Overall TV across the board is about as stale as Elizabeth Taylor's follopian tubes.

The internet is a vast source of comedy potential and most of us being chained to a desk all day pop on to Al Gore's invention hoping for a break from the mundane. Aside from the random Google Video that spreads like gossip in an all-girl's school, rarely do you find a consistently updated article/site/blog where it makes you chuckle day in and day out, ahem plug plug, with the exception of BadIdeaBlueJeans and DeadSpin. On radio most talk stations are either political or sports talk that yammer on and on but nothing is ever resolved. Either they think Clinton caused the economic boom or one of the Bush twins was the catalyst. Boring and nothing ever gets solved. The only humorous show that I found in my travels is funny enough on XM 202 the Ron and Fez Show. I will not even attempt to describe that show because it comes at you from more angles than an air hockey puck. In the daily print publications, all we have is an occasional Dave Barry article that is so bad, I wouldn't stuff my wiffle ball bat with it for fear that it might cause me to suck like him.

In this fact finding mission I was able to determine that you have to pick your spots can not 100% rely on one source for your jokes and fodder. You have to work in a movie, a radio show, an article here and there but most of all you have to surround yourself with producers in your everyday life. You don't think the people at work have a joke or something funny about how the fax machine broke? Wrong, take them out for a post work drink and let the truth serum do its work. Family and friends are a major source that can keep you afloat. Again, for a good time, just add drinks. Something is bound to happen that will make you snot yourself. Suggestions or stories are welcome.

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