"The fact is, we are a comedy show, and if it's not funny we're not doing it, no matter how big of an issue it is," King said. "We care really passionately about the things we do, but first and foremost we have to make people laugh."
I agree. First thing ya gotta do is get laughs. Then you can worry about making your point. In fact, that might be a wise career path too. Worry about being funny first and then worry about getting across some sort of "message."
Reminds me of a recent email exchange I had with Myq Kaplan about making 'em think vs. making 'em laugh...
you see this carlin daughter interview in punchline?
"In the book, he talks about realizing that laughter wasn’t necessary to know he was being successful at his job. He says, ‘I got that as long as the audience is willing to sit there and nod their heads and I knew that the wheels were turning in their heads, that I was doing my job.’ So, there’s a man who is acknowledging that he is making people think, and he’s okay with it."
didn't see that. interesting.
i'm kinda fascinated by if there's a point when this "make 'em think over make 'em laugh" approach becomes ok. after x number of years, or a certain amount of success, or having been on TV, or once people are knowingly coming to see you vs. just a random crowd, or if you get 1hr instead of 8 mins.
i just can't shake the feeling that someone who does this [i.e. a laughter is not necessary approach] at my level and for the crowds i'm performing in front of is just being selfish. not to mention, that path will never get you on TV or enable you to reach a level of "fame" that you can do this for a career. in short: i wonder if you need to make people laugh first and THEN you earn the right to make 'em think. at least if you want to do it under the umbrella of "comedy."
i think your assessment is pretty much dead on
i mean, if you can be as compelling and interesting as carlin was in an 8-minute set when you're starting, power to you, go for it
(because isn't ALL of beginning standup selfish to a certain degree? most people are bad, and if you weigh only the momentary benefits to yourself versus the horrors you're pushing upon crowds, strict utilitarianism might suggest that everyone stop and never start comedy)
also, when people went to see carlin in his later years, they weren't going to see "a comedy show"
they were going to see carlin
that's probably a considerable, noteworthy difference
(because even if some newby CAN be as compelling/interesting as carlin, that might not entertain or please an audience that's just coming to see "comedy")
i definitely think being funny first and interesting later makes sense, but i don't know if it HAS to be that way
it's probably just harder if you're more interesting than funny first
i'm trying to think of people like stanhope (who i believe always had the capacity to be funny initially), or other interesting people and how they started, and the one that jumps out as someone who might have bucked this route is maron...
i don't believe he was ever just a punchline-providing audience-pleaser, was he?
either way, i think you CAN do whatever you want from the get-go, but if you DON'T go the funny, audience-pleasing (at least learning that you CAN do it) route, it might be a harder road to hoe (is that an expression?)
agreed. and i also think there's something good about mastering the conventional way of doing something before you start breaking the rules. like miles davis playing standards before getting all freaky avant-gardey. do that (prove you CAN follow the rules) and the choices you make to NOT follow the rules become even more powerful.
but then there are the few cases where people do seem to come up with something genius right out of the gate
i hear douglas adams created the hitchhiker's guide in his early twenties
not that it's particularly Unconventional
(and after reading "outliers" and hearing about the standard 10,000 hours of work that most geniuses seem to have put in before they were at the top of their game, like the beatles, etc... have you read it?... it also talks about how, sure, mozart did create his first symphony or whatever when he was 3 or 4, but after putting in 10,000 hours of work after that, the stuff he was writing at 10 or 11 made that original stuff look like crap... i'm paraphrasing... anyway, point is it seems like most people in any art, craft, skill, trade, most of anyone who is great at something does put in the work, and i presume the work most often comes in the form of the conventional at first, learning before becoming awesome)
that said, mozart DID write shit when he was 3 or 4, and regardless of how great it was, he was doing it
Related: Malcolm Gladwell on what makes a great performer: 10,000 hours