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."