I don't feel confused so let me try to boil it down one more time. This is what turns me off: A comedian who's like "I'm a liberal (or conservative) and the other side is dumb and my whole act will be devoted to showing you why that's so." I've seen guys like these and they don't make me laugh. Others can feel free to disagree. That's what I was trying to say.
OK, just wanted to get that out upfront.
Actually, I think the podcast's hosts (Jimmy Dore, Todd Glass, Stefane Zamorano) did a pretty fair job of reading my views and trying to see where I'm coming from. They're right that my explanations thus far were a bit muddled. A couple of reasons for that: For one thing, how you define "politics" and a "political comedian" is a big gray area. And also, I'm trying not to single people out by name. This would be easier if I just could say, "I've seen X, Y, and Z and I think they're not funny." But that's kinda lame to do so I'm trying to avoid that. (Part of why I felt ok discussing Jimmy's role in this is that I've never seen his act and know him solely via the podcast. He might not even fit into the category I'm talking about. Or he might be so hilarious he completely changes my mind on all this.)
Todd and Jimmy hacked away at me a bit so let me respond. Jimmy asks how I would define "political" and wonders if these things qualify as political topics: the war on terror, gay marriage, and health care. Yes, they totally do. And if someone was like, "The next comic going up is going to talk about the war on terror and health care and gay marriage..." I'd be predisposed to not liking that comic. If that makes me some kind of idiot, so be it. Could this comic wow me and turn me around? Sure, it's possible. But, in my experience, someone who confines themselves solely to discussing topics like these usually has a certain mindset/approach/delivery that I'm not a big fan of.
Perhaps my real problem is with the idea that someone would label themselves as a "political comedian." I don't like the idea of defining your act by just one thing. Jimmy mentions Carlin and Rock a lot to back up his case yet I don't think either of them would ever say, "I'm a political comedian." Just like I don't think you'd hear CK say, "I'm a parenting comedian." These guys all talk about a huge range of topics, not just things like the war on terror, gay marriage, and health care.
One more thing...during the previous discussions at this site, I think it's worth noting how many times I use the phrase "for me." I'm not making blanket statements that everyone should feel the same way. For example, Jimmy really emphasized the way I said, "There's no such thing as good political standup comedy." But what I wrote is: "For me, there's no such thing as good political standup comedy." Big difference between those two statements.
Anyway, fun discussion. And I look forward to seeing Jimmy live sometime and realizing how wrong I am about all this!
FYI, here's the original discussion: "Is crowd work a crutch?" You can leave any comments there.
P.S. The only time I got offended during the discussion: When Jimmy accused me of being from Long Island!? Easy with that. I live in Brooklyn.
Labels: about standup
Permalink | 7/24/2009