Buzz Words and Racial Slurs.
I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of myself because I began a stand-up DVD review without using the words “comedy is”, and then launching into a pretentious dissection of comedic tactics that ends up being less funny than Life According To Jim. Normally, anything regarding Dave Chappelle would involve a statement along the lines of “comedy is about breaking taboos”, followed by a discussion of his racially-themed comedy and its place in the modern cultural landscape. That’s not going to happen, because comedy isn’t about breaking taboos. I mean, it can be, but it can also be about passing gas a lot or, if you’re Jerry Seinfeld, whatever boring shit you did that day. It can be sensitive or outrageous, subtle or boorish, funny or Ray Romano. Comedy can be anything, to anyone.
Which is why I hate it. If you want to be successful as a comedian, you have to broaden the laughs to fill seats, which takes all the sting out of your point of view until all you have left is a sad Howie Mandell show running 6 nights a week in a Vegas casino. I haven’t laughed since 1993, while watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and that was probably only because I accidentally breathed in a potato chip and my esophagus seized. And I certainly didn’t laugh at this. Don’t get me wrong, I think Dave Chappelle is a genius, when it comes to his sketch show. Before it ended in a cacophony of media hype and Charlie Murphy interviews, Chappelle’s Show was a quintessential example of what’s been termed, possibly by Andrew Sullivan, as Post-PC comedy. Pioneered by comics like Lisa Lamponelli, it’s a style of humor that embraces the elimination of racial and cultural stereotypes by drawing attention to their inherent ridiculousness, and allows guys like me to make ZOG jokes in public.
Not a lot of that is seen here, however. Chappelle’s stand-up is intermittently funny, but never in the important way that his sketch show is, or Richard Pryor was. Essentially, Chappelle finds it really funny that he’s 30 years old and still smokes pot like a theatre major on spring break. Presumably, if you’re a stoned as he seems to be, you might enjoy it. Of course, by that point you’ll probably also enjoy Son-In-Law and trying to find images of Bob Marley in the weave of your jeans, so I don’t suppose that’s any great compliment. I don’t know what comedy is, clearly, but I know it’s not Cheech and Chong.
You can tell me about your favorite stand-ups below, if you wish.