There is no hack subject, only hack approaches

Louis CK has a hot new bit on airplanes which started an interesting conversation over at Shecky Magazine. CK chimes in there too:

But I NEVER thought of [hack] subjects as bad to talk about. If you think any subject is hack, go to youtube and watch Jay leno's appearances on the old Letterman show. There are a ton of them and they're amazing. He was SO Fucking good and everything he talked about was "hack". he did airplane humor in at least five different segments on the same show. he never let it go. Just kept hammering and hammering at it, but with such beautiful percision, such energy, gorgeously worded bits. To frown on them because of the subject matter is to be a self-serving idiot.

(I know, I know, I'm going overboard on the CK posts lately. Sue me.)

My take: There is no hack subject, only hack approaches. You can do a bit on airplanes or anything else. You just need to take an innovative approach that hasn't been heard 1,000 times before.

For example, I've got a bit on the gay pride parade. I think that's potentially a pretty hacky subject to tackle. But I take it somewhere that I think is pretty unique. I know other people have done jokes on this subject before. But I don't think anyone's taken the approach I take or gone to the examples I go to.

I guess that's what matters: The joke needs to represent your point of view or how you see things or reveal a unique twist that no one else would give it. That's what I mean by your approach. It's what gives you your voice.

And that's way more important than the subject you're talking about or how popular/common it is. CK's bit is really about people and how they don't appreciate technological advances. Plane travel is just an example he's using, not the real point of what he's saying.

Interesting that he points to Leno too. Here's Jay talking about airplanes on Letterman back in the day:

And another one:

More YouTube search results for "jay leno at david letterman."

Crazy to think that Leno was actually one of the top comics working back then. I think of him as one of those people who was secretly replaced by a robot at some point in the '90s, along with George Foreman, Nicolas Cage, and all the members of Aerosmith.


Aalap said...

There can never be enough CK. You know who your audience is. Also that was a great comment by Louis. That's a wonderful attitude he has, I think of him as the Kurt Vonnegut of comedy.

d said...

"It's all rich people, so if it crashes nobody cares."

What an amazing line, especially since it's your first joke on national television for that night. Everyone in the audience that moaned at that needs to be slapped.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does Mike Lawrence have the cutest little ass in comedy?

Moving on/Subscribe to my newsletter

I only post on rare occasions here now. Subscribe to my Rubesletter  (it's at  mattruby.substack.com ) to get jokes, videos, essays, etc...