Saturday, July 14, 2012

You're Not One To Talk

This is why I'm friends with and love the hell out of Salon's Mary Beth Williams:

"Not even Daniel Tosh deserves to have an audience member yell at him about what’s 'never' funny while he is doing his job. But wait, you say. First they made jokes about the communists and I didn’t speak because I wasn’t a communist, and all that! The comic needs to know when he is going too far! you argue. Still, no. A comedy club is not a town meeting. It is not a dialogue. Even if you’re going to see improv, and the comic is asking you to shout out suggestions, he is not inviting you to tell him that rape is not funny. There’s really not a whole lot he can do with that. He is not going to pause thoughtfully and say, 'Why, perhaps I should reconsider my material. I’m off to do some rewriting. Thank you, helpful expert in the back!' He is going to attack you with everything he’s got now, because that is the nature of stand-up.

The moment the comic takes the stage, he is fighting every second for control of that audience. He is competing with the table full of drunks over at the side who are talking through his routine. He is vying for attention against the group that can’t stop looking at their phones. As Todd Barry once told a New York club crowd, 'You are the nicest audience that has ever texted through my whole set.' And he is just holding his breath for the person, like you, who has suddenly decided that this is the night to get into a debate. Comedy is a power struggle, and I promise you the person on the stage will not let you win it. If he’s worth his salt, he’ll do it in a way that’s so incisive and devastating that even you, random person with poor impulse control, will laugh. If he’s not, he’ll do it in a clumsy, angry manner that becomes a gigantic stink on the Internet and you will still have been wrong in the first place."



Benoit from Ottawa said...

Hell of a rebuttal. Worthy of you, I daresay.

Marc McKenzie said...

Right on.

Thank God there's some good stuff at Salon other than Greeenwald's regular shit-spews.

Nathan said...

I don't know if you saw this one, but it really does take the cake. (So proud of my hometown which not only has the distinction of being in Florida, but also has the distinction of being one of the worst places in Florida!)

Also, I was working for Dan Pasternack a couple of years ago and he started discussing getting heckled. As far as he's concerned, you can't go too far when shutting down a heckler. The only goal is to keep escalating as far as you have to go to kill the heckler dead.

Luke Weiss said...

another pesrpective, and a compelling counter-argument:

The Dork Knight said...

I enjoyed the conversation on this topic, but tend to side with Bob on this one. Also... this:

ZIRGAR said...

That's a great piece. She nailed it.

Chez said...

I linked to that Jezebel piece in my extended column at the Daily Banter and the Huffington Post. It's all kinds of stupid. First of all because it's ridiculous to try to tell a comic how to do his or her job. And to be honest, Jezebel isn't really one to talk when it comes to making light of rape.

Tuba Terry said...

I think I'm somewhere in the middle. Having tried and failed standup miserably, I kinda understand how tough it is and how you really do have to be the one in charge of the situation, regardless of the fallout later.

What he said kinda reminded me of the Michael Richards explosion a while back. Fuck hecklers on the one hand, completely fucked up in hindsight on the other. I'm not calling for him to be silenced or anything, but I'm certainly not going to recommend anybody pay to see him. He can keep going all he wants, but this is one of those events that's probably going to stick with him.

Like Mary Beth said, if you're any good, you'll do it without being a gigantic douchebag, but you've still got to do something. I can't blame him for shutting down a heckler, but I can call him a giant pile of shit for the way he went about it. How he reacts or doesn't react to the fallout is entirely up to him too.

JohnF said...

To say that Jezebel doesn't know how to bring the funny is to put it very, very mildly.

kanye said...

A man walks into a bar, pulls up a stool:

Bartender: What can I get for ya, Buddy?

Man: Bourbon, 2-1/2 parts; 1 part Honey syrup; 1 part grapefruit juice, fresh-squeezed. Mix, shake, ice, shake again, strain. Cocktail or Martini glass...I'm not picky. I'd like to send that fetching young woman at the end of the bar a drink as well.

Bartender: We can do that. What do you wanna send her?

Man: Pour: 5 parts-Hawaiian Punch, 3 parts-Tickle Pink, 2 parts-Cold Duck, 2 parts-Everclear, into an old jelly jar. Drop in 2 roofies. Add ice and use your penis to stir.

Bartender: One Brown Derby and one Joe Francis, comin' right up.

That's how you make a rape joke.