Does great comedy have to come from a personal place?

Judd Apatow's advice: Always make sure that your comedy comes from a personal place.

You hear that a lot. Make your material personal. Talk about your family, your fears, your childhood, your secret thoughts, etc. Louis CK or Mike Birbigs come to mind as examples of this approach. And Howard Stern might just be the king of it.

Those guys are some of my faves. But so are a lot of comics who never get personal. Mitch Hedberg, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Martin, Todd Barry...their material rarely touches on intimate details about their lives. Do I know anything about what these guys are truly like at home or whatever? No. Do I care? No.

Maybe they're revealing something about themselves based on how they tell their jokes and look at the world. When Mitch Hedberg talks about Pringles or bananas, you're still getting some pretty deep insight into how his brain works. Maybe it's ok to not get personal if you're being peculiar in your own way. Maybe a strange joke about koala bears reveals as much about you as a story about how your dad yelled at you or whatever.

Anyway, just something I've been wrestling with in my own head. Sometimes I think I should get more personal with my material. But then again, it just doesn't seem to come all that naturally to me. Maybe it's cuz it's easier to keep some emotional distance. Or maybe it's just easier for me to make random stuff funny than things that are close to home. Hmm.

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