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comedy

Comedians in cars getting coffee

I like this show, because I have a fascination for comedy, stand up and the people who make it. 

But this program is frustrating to me. They never go deep in the conversation, each time a good question is asked by Seinfeld, the guest replies with a joke and it’s cut to another scene, shot of the car on the road and on to another question, an easier one. 

I guess it’s how most of them works, a question that is hard to answer, too personal, will be dodged with a joke. 

Great show because of the host and the guests, cars are nice as well, but I don’t really care for cars. 

A big frustration after watching more than 10 episodes, it’s really like a cup of coffee but there is no connection, no deep impact, no digging. It's quick, short and a bit silly, just a catch up.
Maybe Tea would help to settle, meditate and create a conversation, a connection, deeper...  
It’s like Seinfeld is lazy and just wants a nice little chat, no hassle. That’s what we have here, nice little jam sessions with famous funny people, but I miss the juice, the gold, some secrets, confessions, darkness. 

It’s just a stroll in a car… maybe walking would have make people more talkative. 

Try, comedians in parks taking a stroll. 

Demetri Martin, not my kind of guy.

Just saw Demetri Martin's special, Person (2007). 
It's not for me. 
I don't like this "folk-joke" telling with a guitar and an harmonica as a punchline. It's exactly like Steven Wright and I already didn't enjoy A Steven Wright Special.
I respect the writing, the funny ideas, puns and worlds on words, but it doesn't make me laugh, once perhaps the side of my lips twitched, that's about it for a smile. 
Too much poetry, when I want comedy. Nice poetry though...
"I wonder where my jokes goes... (insert guitar, harmonica) after they leave my head, into space..."

quote-i-love-steven-wright-demetri-martin-18-87-11.jpg

I want intimate truth, not your goofy emotional thoughts.
That's cute, don't get me wrong, but I'm not watching comedy for cuteness.
So long Demetri. 

George Carlin is not funny anymore, comedy's ghosts and monsters to come.

Comedy is a beautiful craft, being able to make me laugh with the dark truth of us all, as people and society, its flaws and lows. I love the way comedians make me question us as a whole, human beings, our twisted minds, habits, and laugh at the same time, laying down the pain for everybody to look at and make fun of, sharing.
The worst is still to come though and it might not be that funny at all in the end... at least we'll be real. 
Will the future of comedy be blunt truth, not looking for laughter but just pure honesty, as it is, saying the darkest truth and having the courage of honesty ? Just a thought. 

Louis C.K. was the first to put the light on this craft for me and many aspirant comedians. I deliberately mention him and his recent fall was a big punch in the stomach but not a surprise, weirdly I did not need a lot of convincing to accept it when I learned the truth. Deep down I believe he could do shit like that, how can you make me laugh so much with such dark shit if you are clean ? Do you have to fall low in order to dig up the gold, so low that moral has disappeared? There is some darkness and twisted mind for sure there but that's where I wanna look. 
I have this question in mind:  "Can happiness make us laugh?" I tend to prefer darkness. Comedy is a martial art, turn drama into laughter. 
Latest example of bad comedy was Kevin Hart show on netflix "what now?"... Just the intro made me cringe of sadness and when he started talking about his huge house, long driveway and wealth I did not laugh, nor connected to that. He is wearing a gold chain and trying to make me sympathise with his life and "struggles", him being too successful ? Well it failed, spectacularly, with special effects, fireworks and a whole stadium... That his audience could connect to that and laugh so hard was for me mind blowing, I understood why LeBron James could though.

That's not the point here. George Carlin is. 

It's been 5 years I dig deep into comedy's whole universe, listening to WTF podcast with Marc Maron non stop, diving into the brains of guys like Robin Williams, watching specials and stand up shows, I naturally looked into George Carlin as he was referred and looked up to by many of the funny geniuses I cherished.

I watched 5 of his shows : On location, George Carlin at Phoenix (or George Carlin Again !) 1978, Carlin at Carnegie 1982, Jammin' In New York 1992, Life is worth Loosing 2005 and It's bad for Ya 2008. 
There is still a lot to watch from him but I believe it's enough to start writing about. 

The last one I just watched is On Location: GC at Phoenix (also referred as George Carlin Again !), taped in 1978. 

I DID NOT LAUGHED ONCE. And I can assure you I was on it 100%. I don't do something else, I don't watched my phone all the time (just a bit of Instagram) and I tried to be fully focused, in the present. But it was too much of the past already...
This type of observational comedy doesn't do it for me, at all, or the observations are too dated. I especially didn't like when he observes random life stuff like people asking him :

- "Do you have time ?"
- "Not one me, I don't own time !"

and then proceeds to read funny news headlines : "A 107 year old woman in Florida is reported to be pregnant. Physicians claim that because of her advanced age she will have a grown up." 

or weird stuff he thinks of like: "Do you think directors dreams end with credits ?". It's smart and witty but doesn't make a crowd die of laughter now anymore, but believe me it did back in 1978. People are loving it, he is a real rock star, slick with his blue pants and shirt. Cheers of the crowd are huge. I wanted to be on his side, stylish and smart like he was, but hell I did not enjoy it and I feel terrible for that. 

Surely it was at the time mind blowing but now it's just  "kids play" with words, puns and imagination openly expressed, funny headlines like I can see a thousand on social networks in 2017... Nothing worth a 2 hours special. And I am amazed by that, 40 years later it's becoming real useless and tasteless comedy. No one of my generation would laugh hard to these and I find it fascinating. On a positive note, his energy, anger and denunciation of everyday bullshit, politics, society and flaws is to me truly inspirational, he says it blunt and gives the finger to them all, me first. He is the perfect Conscientious Objector, and for me it's the highest and most respectable thing to be, anytime. 
For that I look up to him. He would hate me and be right to. 

You're welcome. 

You're welcome. 

On the same period, as a devil's advocate, Richard Pryor's: Live in Concert, 1979 is on my top list of comedy stand up show... The year doesn't explain everything. I remembered being in south of France and watching Live in Concert with my brother and an American guy and I was dying, he was killing me and I loved it, especially thinking of the 40 years gap, the magic still being there and strong. Gold.

At that early age of stand up, puns and observational comedy, "weird shit thought of and said out loud" was the highlight and the material. Nows it's old uncles jokes. Or if you think weird shits, you tweet it, you have to fly real high because everyone is in space now. Being funny and original is not enough anymore, the level is way higher, or way deeper, darker... We dig nowadays, into our brains and minds, our pain, and it doesn't look good, but hell it's funny ! 

I like C.K. and Bill Burr because they show me their darkness, sadness, share it with me, and turn it into gold. That is real. Bill Burr I believe would be a serial killer if not that genius of a comedian. His anger is huge and he turns it into art. That sparks light in me, it's pure beauty.

When I watched Carlin latest shows (Life is worth loosing 2005, It's bad for ya 2008) first I was appalled, "How can this old grumpy man be my heroes' hero ?". These shows are 2 hours of an old 6O yo man's runt : "I don't like that and that" "THIS IS SHIT !"... Wow really.

Times change, and comedy fades away and it made me very sad not being able to appreciate the comedic genius of this man.
I respect him because I understand that at the time it was never seen, never heard and mind blowing. But when I watched these 5 shows I was nodding my head thinking: "This is not possible, I am not laughing once nor smiling AT ALL". And trust me it was not a challenge or forced.

He was a comedic genius that does not make me laugh. I'm sure I would have been a groupie in 1978 though...

I don't think George Carling is funny anymore. Good thing is, I don't matter to him and he will never give a fuck ! For that I love him sincerely and deeply. 

I hereby engage, will you marry me?  

 

 

 

Sebastian Maniscalco, comedy's blacksmith.

Aren't you Embarrassed ? To like this type of comedy ? I could be... The guy is far from what I normally seek. 

At first I was sceptic, never heard of the guy and I am really looking, searching, into comedy, stand up and all, trying to watch as many specials as possible because I love the art and I often need the laugh. Sadness a blessing. 

Just received an email update from Conan youtube channel, a bit of interview with the guy, saying his on the Forbes list of top earning comedians, I’m like “what ?!”... First time I ever see the guy's face. 
Then I do some basic google, read the Forbes articles, “from waiter to Forbes” and the guy seems authentic, a real working man, been a waiter for years to keep his passion going, doing as many shows and open mics as possible, everywhere touring, in between shifts at the four seasons Beverly Hills if necessary. Here I kneel, I respect the love and dedication this dude shows toward his craft. Knew no one in LA, never had a tv show or a movie to shine the lights on him, just been standing up in front of people for years, enduring, performing, improving. For that I start looking into him. 

I watch the first 15 minutes of his only show on Netflix “aren’t you embarrassed ?” And at the beginning my scepticism hits back, he’s a doing the “Italian American Chicago” stereotype, the accent, the look, the hair, the tan, the muscles, the clothes, etc. Almost too much for me and I am ready to hate this act. He's playing on this line and I don't like clowns comedians. Usually the more you're doing the less you're saying to me. If you put on an "act" so much, it means to me you are not true and I want authenticity in comedy, realness and emotion to bring me the laughter. 

Sebastian Maniscalco

Sebastian Maniscalco

Tony Danza,  Who’s the Boss.

Tony Danza, Who’s the Boss.

But that’s where the magic operates, once I tell myself: “Ok ! So he is indeed an act and he’s doing loads to prove he’s this Italo-Chicago character”, but it’s show-business, and it’s a reality. You have to differentiate yourself and this role he’s doing comes from his life, he’s from an immigrant Italian-sicilian family (here he scores to my heart), so he’s no fraud. He just chose a role close to him and developed it to perfection.

So I just accept the act and the "over-doing" in character of this Italian Chicago Americano Macho type of dude and I keep watching for the sake of it

And that’s where the epiphany stroke, once you put aside this character, the guy is a pure comedy gold, the way he speaks, moves, describes and analyse the situations shows years of improving this craft, finding his voice, his moves and his style. Just assuming what he is, probably less in reality, but still, deep down it’s him. This traditional upbringing, old education, tough, but fair with strong work ethic and values. Sharing about this strange vision of things this gave him.

Great comedian ! I really liked his style and act, the way I never seen a comedian like that, the body, the face and all the moves along with his jokes. There is a big part of femininity during the show, when he's shocked, surprised or mad, it's assumed and goes perfectly in balance with the appearance of the Italian male type he "looks" like. There is intelligence and art in this alone. It's been long time I haven't really laughed by myself like that watching a special.

I think I got used to the comedians like C.K., just standing up and delivering the material, so much that it’s been great to see something different and in another comedic style. Opens new dimensions to the craft I didn't thought I'd be interested in. Really appreciated this one, I see the stand up “purists” saying that he’s doing too much of a clown, that it's too simple, but for the clown I hated Jimmy Carr the English but I loved Sebastian, because he's real despite the make up.

Keep laughin’. 

Jimmy Carr, Not Funny Business 

Just saw this show, Funny Business, an English friend of mine told me about this guy once, when I arrived in London and was keen on discovering UK stand up or so. I’ve been wanting to check on him for a long time... Boy what a disappointment ! Just a terrible forced laugh used as a joke to his audience. 

I’ve done some research and his laugh is not as high as the one during his show, but he clearly emphasis on it to get more reaction from the public. What a sad point for a comedian to go this far for a reaction, au laugh. 

His jokes are just bits and pieces, puns and word plays that can be funny at a dinner party, once. But one hour of it as a full Netflix show is for me a disgrace to the art of stand up writing. 
The bit where he just perform his own laugh shows how good he is to pretend at doing it. My real laugh is not something I can pretend, and even watching this show I couldn’t have.

You are supposed to tell me about you, your life, your pain, your drama and turn it into comedy gold. Here you just look around in the car, the plane or the street and you pick up ideas like a one pound coin lost on the pavement. This mask you put on is spotless, there is no flaw, except for this laugh. Because I see nothing of you, I can't stand what you having pretend of given me. 
There is no honesty and truth here, just a fake. 

Jimmy Carr, just in case you did not got it, I don’t like your comedy. 

Marc Maron - Thinky Pain, good podcast doesn't stand up.

It’s been 5 years now I’ve been listening to Marc Maron’s podcast, WTF. I remember discovering stand up with Louis CK and thinking this guy was a pure genius and wanting to know more about this craft, this art of talking shit while making people think deep and laugh hard. 

I listened to as much WTF episodes as I could, wanting to know more about the psyche of comedians, the behind, and that's when WTF became my source of knowledge. 
I would go running with music when I was younger, I’d put some motivational tunes in my ears and I’d be really tired because I’d get pumped up on the rhythm and the sound, picturing myself as a good looking young dude running in slow motion in a movie, with rap music playing in the background. The reality was that after one lap around the small lake, I’d be willing to die and wanting to kill every single runner that would pass me, especially the 50 year old ones. That was when I started listening to podcasts for my run: it was a great thing, walking fast like an old man but at my own pace, not overdoing it, just listening to people talk, slowly. Now I do two laps. 
I continued listening to the podcast on any given occasion, painting the family home or riding the lawn mower.

I realised the success this podcast had when a few years ago Obama went in Maron’s garage to record one episode. It opened my eyes on the number of listeners that Marc had and the quality of his show. The way he doesn't like to prepare too much and just goes on with a fascinating talk.  Another big step between WTF and I was when Robin Williams killed himself in 2014. This guy was the clown of my youth, the funny guy, Jumanji, no the "Kurt Cobain kill yourself" man, no, not Jack. And so I realised the darkness that even (or especially ?),  a comedic genius like him had, the struggles, the addictions and the pain. And this tragedy made me feel good, just to know that Williams was also subject to this pit of despair, this black panther that you need to get tame. That it strikes everyone, everywhere and that you are not alone, especially when your idols share your struggles. 

That’s why after numerous WTF episodes, I started to watch one of Marc Maron's stand up on Netflix. I have to admit something first: I tend to not listen to the preliminary rants of Maron before and after his radio shows. He usually speaks for 10 minutes about his life, his fears, what happened this week, etc… and I have to say that I fast-forward this part of the podcast most of the time. I just go straight to the talk because I want Marc to speak with someone I am interested in. I am used to the way he talks about his problems and I am not a fan of this, don’t know why. I know it’s a big part of comedy and Louis does the same but I appreciate Louis' vision and twist where I just see anger in most of Marc’s, even if the guy has a real skills for analysing himself, people and his demons. He is definitely a self aware man and knows how he works, or how he doesn't, but maybe that’s this perfection about knowing yourself too well that I don’t like. When the analysis is too clear and you still play on the edge without the danger of the fall. 

I then saw Thinky Pain, the 2013 special and I didn’t like it, I was not surprised, after 15min I was already annoyed, but I wanted to see all of it to be sure. Very quickly I noticed the “you know" being repeated every 5 minutes, when Marc, unsure of the laughing matter of his show, knowing that his podcast/stand up audience should already know his life and all, and then be ready to laugh because they do “know”. 
The whole audience is his audience, 80% of it I'm sure are WTF listeners. It’s already a win, but it’s not. Here transpires the subjectivity of a podcast groupies listening to the voice they are used to. And I am too, but I can be critical. I had the same problem with Maron, his tv show, I felt after 2 episodes I knew already everything, because I listened to the podcast and already heard the anecdotes behind the scenes of each episode. 

Even the way he sits on the stool annoyed me, like an old grumpy man not even able to stand correctly, sitting on the edge, not fully on, like his show, not stable, unsure. 
As he does for WTF, it’s almost like he didn't prepare too much his stand up routine and that works great for the talks, not so much for a show. 
To me, he makes one hell of a podcast but a mediocre stand up.