Saturday, December 17, 2005
So I guess "Alternative Comedy" is the in thing all the sudden. "Comedians of Comedy" on Comedy Central. Article about Alt Comedy in Spin magazine. I have mixed feelings about it. Overall I think it's awesome that people are talking about comedy at all, but a few things do bother me about it. Whenever alt comedy is discussed in articles or radio it seems to be compared to 80's comedy. You know some guy or girl with a blazer on saying "Whats the deal with" on "Evening at the Improv." Ok that was 20 years ago a lot of great comics have come and gone since that trend. Comedy didn't stop in 1988 and start again when Patton Oswalt decided it should. I'm not blaming Patton for that, it just seems that's the spin I keep hearing. One thing I will blame Patton for is he keeps talking about how young people can't afford to go to comedy clubs. Please. Young people have the most disposable income of anyone. A night at the comedy club isn't anymore expensive then the latest shitty Good Charlotte album. (And yeah I know their not called albums anymore but I'm 156 years old.) There are a lot of clubs I work where the audience is extremely young. Tucson,Salt Lake City to name a few. I think what Patton is saying is "cool" kids don't go to comedy clubs. He's probably right about that. Look comedy clubs are trying to sell beer and nachos, I know that, but I still think they are sometimes unfairly judged. I've talked to several people who have said to me something like "Oh I went to the Comedy Underground once the comic was horrible, I never went back." Really? Did you stop going to the Tacoma Dome, because the Back Street Boys sucked when they played there? Some comics are amazing and some are amazingly bad. Just like music, or any other art form. Comedy is the only art form where the genre is judged more then the individual artist. You never hear this conversation about music. "Hey did you go to the Back Street Boys concert?" "No I don't care for music." Or movies"Hey do you want to go and see "King Kong?""No I saw a "Deuce Bigelow" a few years ago and it was horrible, so I don't go to movies anymore"In the interest of full disclosure I will also tell you I'm a little jealous of so called Alternative comedy. When I was a drummer I was in a punk band. I could tell myself that if someone didn't like us it was probably because they were an asshole. We were punk rock, not everyone was supposed to like us. Now that I'm a comic I'm more like Aerosmith without the popularity. I watched the "Comedians of Comedy" documentary the same week I worked 3 Christmas parties.(2 without a microphone.) It's hard to get less punk rock then working an office party. That being said it's not like I feel like a sell-out. In fact I'm pretty damn proud that I am a professional stand up comic. It's my job. I am a breadwinner for my family and I tell jokes for god sake. I feel like I found a loop hole in this whole adulthood thing.I look at it this way. There are things I think are funny, there are things audiences think are funny, and there are things we both think are funny. Every idea that pops into my head that I think is funny I try it out on stage. If the audience agrees with me I keep it. There are some jokes I am more proud of then others, but overall I feel ok.Ok last thing that bothers me about the discussion of Alt Comedy. Not everyone who doesn't live in New York or LA is a 3 toothed dumbass. Only about 1/3 I'd say. Look I complain about stupid people as much as the next comic, which is a lot, but have you ever seen an LA comic? I don't mean a comic who started somewhere else and then moved to LA, I mean a comic who started there. I'm sure you can think of a few exceptions, but overall it's a pretty sad group. If you ask me, and you didn't, it's a toss up between honestly stupid and pretentiously smart.I like most of the comics who get lumped in to the alternative group. David Cross makes me laugh about 1/2 the time, which is pretty good considering how much material he cranks out. I guess Mitch Hedberg was alternative, and he's one of my all time fav's. The "Comedians of Comedy" comics are good too. Patton Oswalt I like. Maria Bamford I think is brilliant. Zach Galifianakis is "holy shit" funny. I have laughed out loud every time I have seen him. Brian Posehn is....also on that show. Kudos to all those comics for creating their own niche, and for doing it at rock-n-roll venues. It would be nice to go to a show and not have the MC ask "if anyone is celebrating anything" and telling everyone to "tip your waitstaff." I just hope they start having open mic at all these indy-rock clubs. Let some of those "scenesters" go up on stage and see how fucking hard it is. I'll be in the back wearing my blazer and working on my new killer bit about airline food.
Posted by gabriel rutledge