Monday, April 11, 2022


Glenn Loury has a new episode talking with comedians at a comedy club about what can and cannot be said in this society, and if comedy offers an opportunity that is not available to others.  It is a promising idea, but I gave up on it quickly. It is a matter of audience.  Who goes to comedy clubs?  Disproportionately young, hip, single, or at least without children. As I am still in a mode of watching comedians, that is what I see when the audience is shown. Also drunk and out for a good-time evening. That is going to skew strongly liberal. Dry Bar is a bit older.

I could tell immediately as Glenn started that the topics he was bringing up were jarring to those people. A few of the comedians seemed ready to tackle some of them and whether comedy would be possible, but the discomfort in the air was palpable. They were quick to say that few or no topics were off-limits in comedy, but when they leaped in - one especially - it was clear that they couldn't quite imagine how jokes could be told about these things. She thought that the comedian only learned what was over the line by working the audience. Yet look at who is going to be her audience.  It's not a representative sample of the society. Not that we should protest that or deplore it in anyway, it's just what people prefer to do with their time and it's their choice.  Comedians who could find humor in those topics aren't going to be in front of that audience. Generally.

So it remains an open question whether some other style of humor could be used to broach these topics - satire sites seem to manage it at least somewhat, though social media censors the Babylon Bee pretty regularly. There are public speakers, Christian speakers who trade in humor quite a bit.  Those audiences are older, and they are often coming to get something else as well, beyond mere yuks. They are getting motivation, or a teaching, or are part of a conference.  But I think we can be clear that standard club standup comedy is not going to be that vehicle, because their is no audience for the comic to polish her routine in front of, so she can't make a living at it. It is therefore self-reinforcing, in that people will have in mind what type of experience they are going to be spending their money on, and will stay away from things they don't think they will find enjoyable. 

If someone listened longer and encourages me to go back and give it another try I will consider it.


Deevs said...

I listened up to the Q&A, and I think you're okay to skip it. Glenn Loury and Coleman Hughes don't end up saying a whole lot. Andrew Schultz was there, and he's one of the few comedians whose material actually interests me. He adds some good comments and funny jokes here and there, but I would have liked to have heard more from him. Luckily, he has two YouTube channels and a podcast worth of material out there.

The comedian you reference, Judy something or other, ends up dominating most of the discussion. I found her rather grating. For instance, she asserts Trump wasn't funny because his jokes came from a place of hate. When asked how she knew that, she replied it was because Trump is a hateful person. I love circular logic as much as the next guy, but she left me questioning whether or not she's the sharpest tool in the shed.

She really brought the entire panel discussion down. She insinuated that her comments were of more value then Glenn's opening statements because she got laughs* compared to the applause Glenn (not a comedian and trying to make jokes) received. Later another comedian introduces himself and makes some land acknowledgement and pronoun jokes that get the biggest laughs of the night. So, poking fun at woke pieties (which were a main part of the discussion) and entertaining the audience. Something you might call comedy. Judy's response was a sarcastic, "Well, that was helpful."

*I would describe those laughs as being closer to polite chuckles than belly laughs. Probably not the kind of laughs to pat yourself on the back in public for.

Deevs said...

Messed up that parenthetical. I meant Glenn is not a comedian and wasn't trying to make the audience laugh. He had an entire panel of comedians for that.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thanks. Listening, I really wished I had been there when she said Trump "came from a place of hate." I wanted to shout "Queens?" It was shortly after that I gave up.

For those scoring at home, that's also a double, because it illustrates the idiocy of that phrasing.

I guess you had to be there.

Aggie said...

I gave up on it quickly too. I always find Loury worth listening to, and on the face of it I thought this was a tremendously creative idea on his part, trying to get the conversation flowing. But it fell flat. The comedians were not up to it.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I am hoping that it is just the format of standup comedians being the main definers of comedy that impaired it.

Mike Guenther said...

I didn't listen to it BUT, I can say from watching comedians on Drybar and other venues, that black and Hispanic comics get away with subjects no white comic could...or even would broach.

Dave Chappelle would be one example. He basically trashed the trans movement with some of his jokes and was able to weather the storm. Ricky Gervaise (sp), on the other hand, a white comic, pointed out all the hypocrisy of the left and cancel culture. He's almost a pariah now.

I don't find most women comics funny, although the ones who perform on Drybar are usually somewhat funny. One of the funniest woman comics I ever listened to was Jeanne Roberson, a motivational speaker from NC.

Texan99 said...

I enjoy Bill Burr on Netflix. Sometimes he stops and observes that things just got really quiet. He usually bores on in, forcing the audience to think about it a little bit. Taylor Tomlinson is also worth watching.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I loved Taylor Tomlinson at first, but as her career has gone along she has gone more and more into relying on "nice girl talking about sex is funny in itself," and getting raunchier. It very much has the feel of a Screwtapian wanted to be accepted by her new, cooler friends.