Monthly Archives: May 2010

Comedy

Friggin everyone loves to laugh. Even observatory domes.

Friggin everyone loves to laugh. Even observatory domes.

Dear readers, you all know I love to laugh. Almost as much as “hanging out with friends.” I’m fascinated by comedians; they occupy an extra special place in my heart of hearts. Let me share a thought I had about them.

Observation

There are virtually no good comedians under the age of 35.

I can’t find a single widely-known comedian whom I admire that is not 12 years older than I. I was in first grade, they were in their senior year of high school, if not already graduated. A sample (this also serves as an abridged list of my comedy heroes):

I could go on. Notice that even the “young” comedians — comedians whose primary audience tends to be young — are at the very least entering middle age.

Why?

What gives with the 19-year-old doctors, CEOs, and pop stars? The media love these wunderkind and dangle their success before us like we should have worked harder in school. But there is a difference. I think there is something intrinsic to comedy that is much more resistant to this kind of fluke. In no way, shape, or form can the media make a comedian. Enough plays on the radio will make any song with a beat catchy. But a joke just gets older and more stale. Something about humor demands perception and experience. Practice and study of the mechanics of the craft can only augment talent and exposure to life.

What really strikes me about these specialists who have been writing and thinking for years, is the material that actually makes it to our ears is relatively very limited. As if all those years attempting original, humorous thought netted only a few hours of stories worthy of public presentation. Presented and appreciated so casually! A joke, a laff. No wonder comedians are so humble; some part of them is aware of this brutal inefficiency.

And so I think it must go with any experience-driven occupation. Building on this post, youth does not favor the designer, the producer, the director.

Appendix

As with all claims, there are exceptions. Dave Chappelle had an early break with Half Baked. Tim and Eric are 34. Aziz Ansari is only 27 and he is a little past up-and-coming. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting discovered. Maybe it’s because the comedian stands alone, whereas the pop star is almost always backed by a team of producers and creative staff. Or maybe it’s because there’s just no rushing a good joke.

Werner Herzog is Everywhere

Herzog as drawn on the Boondocks

The only way Herzog was going to be animated.

Some months ago, a friend sent me a book, Herzog on Herzog. It’s a fine book, Herzog is an interesting man with many interesting stories and thought processes. Having not heard much of him before receiving the book, I did a bit of research. I personally sought out a few of his films (less remarkable than the man, sadly), watched him eat his own shoe and get shot during an interview. And I thought that was that.

But no. Herzog is too persistent. There has definitely been a marked increase in allusions to Herzog’s work (especially Fitzcarraldo and the ship over the mountain story), and strong possibilities of references in a webcomic (gasp). More convincingly, I was referred to this short film about the environment, strongly narrated by Herzog. And now, the season premiere of The Boondocks’s third season is portrayed as a Herzog documentary, featuring the man himself.

So I’m just observing that there’s a Herzog resurgence, which is good, because he’s interesting. He is single-minded in an endearing way and, while his life is a bit of a museum piece for me, I think it’s all very charming.