The side of the majority isn't funny

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."
-Mark Twain


I think it's true for standup too. Are you arguing something that everyone in the room already agrees with? Then who cares? And how funny is it if everyone already feels the same way?

I'd much rather hear you defend something horrible. Or something that everyone is on the other side of. At least then you'll be interesting. And that tension is a lot more likely to result in something funny.



I love during this set when CK says, "What other terrible things to defend?" (about 7:40 in). It comes in between him defending terrorists and explaining when it's ok to rape someone. Yeah, sounds terrible on paper. But that's why it's funny.

Along the same lines, Chris Rock says offending people is part of being an artist:

"Somebody should always be offended," Rock says. "Somebody in your life should always be like, 'Why did you have to do that?' Always. That's just being a real artist. That's the difference between Scorsese and Disney."


Maybe I like that idea so much because of how little I respect people who get offended. What is that even about? If someone says something that's wrong, then they're wrong. That means they're stupid and why would you get worked up about that? Just pity their foolishness.

And if they say something that's true, then, well, it's true. You may not like it but it's the truth so what can you do about it? If you get offended by the truth, life must be a real pain in the ass. Either way, being offended seems silly.

Labels: ,


7 Comment(s)

Blogger Colin Fisher said...

Good call Matt. And good post. To make people laugh, you almost always have to surprise them. Kinda hard to do when you're dropping profundities like "Boy, that DMV sure is boring huh?" Love the Louis CK clip.

10/27/09, 12:49 PM  
Blogger myq said...

I think a majority of people will agree with you here Matt. (So it's time to change what you think. Mix it up.)

And about this:

"Maybe I like that idea so much because of how little I respect people who get offended. What is that even about? If someone says something that's wrong, then they're wrong. That means they're stupid and why would you get worked up about that?"

I agree with you, but I do think that there is a time to get worked up about people being wrong, and that's when they're in power and their wrongness can influence reality in a negative way.

Of course, that's not an argument that being offended is good, it's more an argument that not taking action when things are bad is bad.


PS I've actually had great experiences at the DMV lately... they've gotten to me pretty quickly and been pretty helpful.
Take that, majority.

10/27/09, 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Hank Thompson said...

Yeah, being offended by someone's words never made any sense to me. You dont have to agree but why would you grant someone else so much power over your emotions? People are pre-disposed to externalize emotions they feel insecure about. It's a means to blame someone else for shit they've never properly worked out in their own minds.

If you are of that disposition then you shouldn't go to a comedy show where you might have your delicate sensibilities offended. It's not our job to put up with you; it's your job to put up with us.

If you are going to be offended at least have the decency to shut the fuck up about it.
 

10/27/09, 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Doogie said...

I agree, I hate it when a comedian consistently defends the most reasonable side of an argument. I like it when they're able to sway the audience, to argue their way out of a corner.

10/30/09, 1:02 PM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

As an audience member I like to hear the comedian say what I'm thinking. I guess that's just the kind of person I am. I like clapping and doubling over and going, "Yes! That is so TRUE!" I also like hearing that from a comedian. Not, "Oh, I never thought of it that way. Hmmm...(beard stroke, beard stroke)."

Sometimes the surprise in comedy is hitting the crowd with an unexpected turn of phrase, timing, or parallel. It's not just saying the opposite of what everyone's thinking. I hate when comics try to take the opposing view--esp of what they believe. It comes across as inauthentic. Like abortion jokes. GOD I AM SO TIRED OF UNORIGINAL, SUPPOSEDLY SHOCKING ABORTION JOKES. If they found out they were pregnant they'd probably be confused and not so quick to decide. They'd mostly be confused since they're men.

11/2/09, 11:29 AM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

Correction: "I also like hearing that from a comedian." should be "I also like hearing that [from the audience] AS a comedian."

And people who get offended get offended. I can't be worried about that. But I CAN sell bunched up panties after the show, which they might like.

11/2/09, 11:32 AM  
Blogger myq said...

"I hate when comics try to take the opposing view--esp of what they believe."

I don't think the idea here is that people just just automatically set themselves up with an opposing view regardless of what they believe; certainly, that seems counterintuitive (so I'll do it!).

But for example, Stanhope is amazing at having really great ideas that come at topics from fairly unique angles that most people haven't thought of, in a way that is completely consistent with who he is as a standup and a person... (e.g. on the subject of gay marriage, he says something like "do you guys think gay marriage should be legal?" and crowds will respond, and he'll give his position, which is basically "I don't think ANY marriage should be legal, why does the government have to do anything with love?" With punchlines.)

Not that someone can't have great pro-gay marriage jokes, say, but there are definitely more of them out there than those coming from Stanhope's position.


So of course, don't be contrarian just because you think it's the thing to do (to fit in with the other contrarians?); be yourself, and question the majority when it deserves questioning.
(You can do that with unexpected turns of phrases, timings, parallels, etc. as well.)

PS Not saying that all great comedy is (or has to be) Stanhope-like. But all Stanhope comedy IS great-like.

11/2/09, 12:46 PM  


More posts: Newer›  ‹Older






rss  Subscribe to Matt Ruby's email list
rss  Subscribe to RSS feed for this blog
rss  Get this blog delivered by email
twitter  Twitter: Follow Matt
facebook  Facebook: "Like" Sandpaper Suit
rss  YouTube: Videos