He is a savant. [Savants] have to do what they do. They don't have any choice. They can't make adjustments. This is what they do. This is their vision. If you accept it, great. If you don't accept it, it's not gonna change. This is what they do.
If they're sitting on a bench at a bus stop, they'll be saying the same things as they will on stage. That is who they are. They're very true to themselves. They completely trust their instincts.
And that's how Bill [Maher] is too. Bill trusts his instincts. He's willing to even alienate people that like him in order to speak the truth. And there's just very few people out there who have that kind of vision.
Who doesn't love Larry David? Maher is kinda a condescending, smug prick. But I still enjoy listening to him. He may be a prick, but he's also usually right (and impressively brave too).
It's interesting how both these "savants" come off as completely unlikable in a lot of ways yet still attract devoted audiences. Being funny obviously helps but I also think it's about what Charles mentions.
There's a compelling purity to someone who can't stop themselves. Like CK talking about wiping shit out of his daughters vagina. It's terrible and disgusting. But beautiful in its honesty. When someone's totally honest, direct, and unyielding, it's tough to turn away. Even if it's something you disagree with or hate, you respect them for being out there and willing to say it.
I think that's a big part of why audiences turn to performers: to say and do things they can't in their own lives. It's a kind of wish fulfillment. People love the idea of rock stars because they can't shoot heroin, throw TVs off of balconies, and bang groupies in their own lives. With comedy, audiences love to hear a comic say that offensive or unpopular thing that they've secretly thought all along but would never dare say aloud.
FYI, the quote above is from Charlie Rose's interview with Charles and Maher (clip below, quote is 21:36 in).
Labels: about standup
Permalink | 10/17/2008