There’s something always perplexing about comedy. I find it to be an endlessly mutable concept that effects itself singularly in singular ways with singular beings. I never know what to think when it comes to comedy. It always seems to be re-inventing itself in front of me, and I’m constantly hooked to the prospect of figuring out “what is funny”. Usually to some avail.
I usually look for challenges. As a result, you can understand how someone might be exasperated with the rote routine of comedic presentations, whatever forms they may take. For full disclosure, I am patently in the more post-modern, absurdist camp than others. I used to think that it was “uncivilized” to laugh at a fart joke. Now I make them to the few people that might welcome such a hackneyed prospect. They’re usually my friends, and we’re all being ironical with these asinine eructations.
What is comedy? That’s the question I’d like to answer with this, my first post. I have been perplexed by comedy in the recent years as I find myself falling in and out of love with it on an hourly basis. With this type of passion, I can only presume that I am destined to devote a professional life to it at some point when I tire of the monotony of the 9–5 routine.
There’s an interesting communion of cordialities between 4 big-time comic masterminds (helmed by Ricky Gervais) that had Chris Rock positing about the difference between a music star and a comedy one. He described the reality of musicians vs that of stand-up comedians: “Sting can do the same song over and over again and his fans will be angry if he doesn’t perform it that way AND the audience will get angry if I do the same joke over again…. How DARE you tell me the same funny thing… TWICE.”
It’s obviously true. Not because Chris Rock said it but because I say that it’s true. And you’re reading me and I’m the one you’re listening to for the moment. It is true. We hate listening to the same comedy routines over and over again. Admit it to yourself.
Then, based on this precept, what is comedy? How do we classify something so amorphous as a laugh on a universal level that spans the breaths of humanity? How does comedy compare to music?
My thought: Music is a memory. Comedy is a moment.
I’ve distilled it down to the simple beauty of complexity that it is.
Music is a vibrating wave of energy that triggers our primal brain into an apogee of emotional catharsis. We always say that “music speaks to us,” but what is it really speaking to? It’s speaking to our past because that’s the only thing that makes up our presents as fallible human beings. It fills us with resolve to solve our daily problems. Or at least it promises us the purge necessary to withstand them. When we hear that combination of vibrations after a first-listen, we return to those “simpler” times where our 20/20 vision is in full-view. It’s a warm blanket of nostalgia. It’s a continuous memory that we love to re-live. Sometimes it’s the initial moment itself that we love. Sometimes it’s that feeling that any particular song comes to represent.
And comedy? Comedy is cast to the wayside of memory compared to the musical memories that enrapture us. There is a short moment in which comedy provides us with a new perspective. That brief instance is what people hope for. It is the modern-day version of magic. If the world is built upon the intellectual interplays between commercial circle-jerks and holistic honesty, then comedy fits perfectly in that role as a prophet against profit. Comedy’s a mirror. And we love to stare. None of the banter beyond my initial premise is news for you, but the extrapolation upon the temporal aspect is more than likely very new to you.
With regards to our consciousness. Music is the simmering eternal flame underneath the rubble of our forgetfulness. Comedy is a spark. Not THE spark. **A** spark. You need more than one to start a conflagration.
One spark is enough.
This is the important thing to understand about comedy.
It is never a series of sparks that leads one to riot. In my petty perusal of comedy routines, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one that has started riots in the streets. But music? Holy shit. Take a seat and let’s listen to all the different ways in which music has portended the following uprisings. Actually… let’s not. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
But the Hahas! Oh, how they haw! And haw! And haw!
So where do I lie? I am the post-modernist, absurdist humor comedian that relishes in the ridiculous inconsistencies that subsume us. And, because I am a child of the consumerist impulses of the Millenial Generation, I am ironic to it all. I peter out satirical, absurd statements like candy since I am only an observer of this torrential world that desires not consistency of horrendously ill-conceived logic, but only desires the pursuits of ends that never enter the rhetorical framework of our capitalist machine.
So is this comedy? Does it make you laugh? Does it make you chortle? Does it make you smile? I guess that’s comedy then.