There’s this thing about comedy that has lingered with me for a long time. I’ve often wasted a thought or three trying to figure out what it is. With some recent realizations, there might be progress. For example. Is there something behind comedy, something more than just laughter? Well, dear worst-reader, I hate to disappoint you, but the answer is: there is not. I’ve reached this conclusion 1) because of the political satire shows on US television and 2) the recent debacle that Bill Cosby can’t get out of. First. Let’s have a worst-glance at the political shows.
Believe it or not, shows like The Daily Show have supplanted real news in #americant. And that is worrisome. But here’s what really gets me about these shows and subsequently the(ir) comedy. What happens to comedy when the laughter is over? After the first few Daily Shows, which ultimately only mimicks European political satire, I thought: Ok, and now what? In other words, it bothers me that if I hear something funny and I know the humour was derived out of something profound, once the laughing stops, what happens to the profundity? I have to admit, the only comedy that has ever stayed with me is the stuff from George Carlin. Which brings me to the academic word “comedy”. Old Greek plays were called comedies yet they weren’t exactly funny. Ok. Nomatter. I won’t bore you with my lack of etymological knowledge. A better source for that is here. I guess what I’m not getting at is the idear that I think we need to find a new word for comedy. Or at least find a better word for the stuff that makes us laugh. Or maybe not. Either way, something gets lost in the world of comedy. I think that’s a shame. Moving on.
The second thing I want to cover today, dear worst-reader, is Bill Cosby. And how about a little bit of praise to get us started. I mean, I kinda grew-up with the man. I remember I Spy, The Bill Cosby Show and even various appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. And then there’s Fat Albert. Fat Albert was the only show on US television in the 70s that represented more or less exactly what I saw in the hell of suburban #ameircant public schooling. Even though I never really liked his comedy–I preferred George Carlin and Richard Pryor–I admired the simple fact that Cosby refused to resort to what was then termed “dirty language”. Heck, even Eddie Murphy made fun of Cosby when Cosby tried to question Murphy’s use of language. But that’s neither here nor there. I mean. What the fuck! That said. By the time the 80s came around and The Cosby Show, Cosby was long lost to me. Again. Once the joke has been heard, the laugh is over, what’s left? I guess, for Cosby, like so many other Hollywood careerists, you gotta find a wave to ride on. Which he did. But there was something seriously disingenuous about The Cosby Show. That show truly gave me the creeps simply because it was so unreal. And I don’t mean it was unreal because of the race issue. That level of family life was just waaaaaaay to much, man. Again. Waaaaaaay to much. Indeed, dear worst-reader, it’s obviously not hard to put the lie of the #americant dream in the boob-tube. This is proven by the wave of animated shows like The Simpsons and South Park. And so. For worst-moi. Two questions remain: 1) Is there something more to comedy and 2) if there is something more does that more have value?
Speaking of value. (Or was I speaking of profundity?) Isn’t Bill Cosby one of the first TV producers to earn something like a billion dollars for a TV show? (Seinfeld being the second?) The thing about Cosby is this, as successful as The Cosby Show was–and it was very, very financially successful–I hate anything that propagates a lie. And here’s where I have to return to the idear that we need to find a new word for people who make a living being funny. Because humour, more than ever, is now based on a situation (aka situation comedy) that is no longer (intrinsically) funny. Is it possible that the modern industrial world is suffering from a kind of comedy burnout? (Or maybe I’ve just heard to much of it.) So I guess there’s a reason that comedy no longer has anything profound about it. For one thing, turning something profound into something comedic probably takes a bit more effort. Hence political satire and family sitcoms are nothing more than slapstick–and that krapp is obviously easy today. But don’t get me wrong. To me it’s quite clear that most comics are highly intelligent people. Take CK Louis or Louis CK, whatever his name is or any other stand-up today. They are all like products of an assembly line. One after the other. Is that why Bill Hicks is also on my list of great comics? The assembly line hasn’t replaced him yet. (Btw, here’s a list of comics that is kind of mind-boggling.)
And so. Once the joke’s over, once you’ve stopped laughing, everything the comedian said fades into the ether. Unless, of course, said comedian can break thru it. Again. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying in any way to promote my bitterness (about life) here by just hacking away at great and financially successful personas, like most comedians and most comedy today. One thing I’ve learned having failed as a writer is to respect those that pull it or anything off that entertains people. Great comedians, to me, are writers, dear worst-reader but they are also writers whose work, due to circumstance, sadly gets lost in the ether. And for that, I’m kinda sorry. Luckily I have a few examples of comedians that were able to break thru the ether. Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks and my all time favourite George Carlin. To me, these writers… sorry. These comedians have been able to break thru the ether. And here’s the kicker of this worst-post. Bill Cosby, even though I don’t want to do it, must also be put on me great ether breaking list. The reason for that has nothing to do with his comedy, though. It has to do with the fact that this man is the embodiment of generations of sexually repressed American males. And even though there is obviously nothing funny about that, give credit where credit is due. At least, maybe, someone, somewhere, will learn something profound from Bill Cosby.