Friday, November 09, 2007

What makes comedy good?

NPR did a great radio show yesterday were they talked about joke stealing in comedy.
They also hit on alot of the points that I feel are getting important in the entertainment industry.

The gist of one of the conversations was this:

Most "hack" comedians make good money and audiences laugh at them. Other comedians don't really like them and feel their jokes are lame.

It's getting to be the same thing with web videos. The crap one which nobody seems to like and are unprofessional and steal ideas from SNL or other popular comedians seem to do well. They get a ton of hits.

In fact in television and films as well there is very little "new" and innovative stuff out there.

And even when new stuff does come out the producers seems to want to change it so much it isn't funny.

When "Stella" did their comedy show briefly on Comedy Central they have to conform to a weird "sitcom" style style that just didn't work well with their short form skills. I think this was done because Comedy Central wanted something that would appeal to a wider audience.

Has America and the world in general become so full of idiots that "Wider Audience Appeal" means dumbing down everything until there is nothing good on anymore?

I have experienced this first hand. During my college TV days there was a public showcase held so students who were interested in being a part of Student Television could find out how. One of the earlier meetings was how I found most of my cast and crew for my show.

During one of my later shows someone had produced another skit comedy show. They did a "Judge Judy" skit that was alot like the one SNL did before. In fact IT WAS THE SNL Skit. The same parody, the same lines, the same camera shots, everything was the same. However, since it was made for College TV it didn't look as good. It looked and sounded like crap. It was a watered down concept.

Yet most of the college students watching it laughed.

When my show aired it's promo NOBODY LAUGHED until about two minutes in. Then everyone started laughing. It was all original stuff that was "out there" in terms of comedy. People seemed to need to feel that it was "alright" to laugh before they could.

So does the current society feel like that they can only laugh at stuff if it's familiar? Have we all gotten so lazy that we can't challenge ourselves to figure out new comedy? My show wasn't all that great. But it was ALOT better than a watered-down Saturday Night Live skit that was already getting old at that time.

The comics on NPR seems to reach for the idea that this situation is getting better. The comedians who steal jokes and take the easy way out are starting to show it. The audience is VERY slowly becoming fed up with this re-hashed crap and want new stuff.

Maybe audiences are getting better. I hope so.

The sucess of the "Dave Chappelle Show" showed that Americans really enjoyed the simply pleasure of skit comedy with NO SET FORMAT.

Yet Comedy Central goes on to help create a show for Sarah Silverman that's based on the same failed Stella "Sitcom" format. She is playing one character. The concept is already getting boring despite the great efforts of costars like Brian Posehn and the Executive Producer, Rob Schrab. It's getting somewhat good reviews and numbers...But I can't help but think that this could be something better than another "sitcom" based situation comedy clusterfuck.

During the "Mr. Show" days Sarah Silverman and Brian Posehn able to play several types of characters and it was funny. Alot better than this current show.

But do the numbers lie?

Is this new comedy that seems to be doing well really all that better?

Will the general audience ever see it my way? Or are my tastes in skit comedy so wrong?

Maybe one day some TV producer will take another chance and we can see another great skit comedy show come around and push all these sitcoms and reality shows into the garbage heap where they belong.

Maybe one day the general viewing audience will freaking grow a pair and start to appreciate innovative ideas.

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