Friday, January 20, 2006

Buzz Words and Racial Slurs.

Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly
2000, USA
Stan Lathan

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.

The William Hung of comedy.

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.

There's a terrible, terrible joke hidden in this image, like Where's Waldo for anti-semites.

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.


Blogger andy said...

When I was a kid, I listened to every single Bill Cosby record (that's vinyl, what we had back then). I still smile thinking about Cosby telling stories about Fat Albert and Weird Harold. You can't beat that with shock comedy, or whatever. I stopped liking Cosby's stand up comedy about the time he started doing jello commercials, but before that he was the greatest.

7:33 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Well, I don't think you can compare the two styles of comedy. Shock comedy and Cosby's style ('grandpa comedy'), are two different animals; one with sharp teeth, the other with dentures.

That said, Cosby is extremely funny, or he was, at least. I just can't listen to him for too long, because his voice starts to sound like a bad caricature of himself after a while and just becomes meaningless sounds.

8:48 a.m.  
Blogger gretchkal said...

a few of my current favorites (in no particular order): dane cook, pablo francisco, jim gaffigan, mitch fatel, brian regan, john pinette, kathleen madigan, carlos mencia, etc., etc.

i could go on forever. hey, you asked ...

2:03 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh baby, you're a man after my own heart. I soooo hate the stand-up schtick, yet...can I get anyone to listen to me???


I love you and I don't care if you're nine feet tall. So there!

8:00 p.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

It's nice to find someone who loves me despite, nay, because of my massive physical supremacy.

For stand-up, I go with the bizarre prop-comedy of Joel Hodgson, or that weird tall guy on the David Spade TV show who always talks about Venom.

12:08 a.m.  

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