Tag: Daily Show

Let’s Talk Comedy

To keep my spirits up during one of the most unusual and patience-testing transitional periods in my life, I’ve been checking out more comedy. Before my move, I hadn’t watched much It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or any Arrested Development or Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Between those shows, and keeping up with The Daily Show, Colbert Reportm, and @midnight, I’ve been thinking about what makes good comedy, and all of its different styles. I feel that it’s a very subjective topic, as what is funny to one person is completely tasteless to another, but I think there are a few objective facts we can consider regarding various approaches to making people laugh.

I think that stand-up comedy and improv take different skill sets. Stand-ups write their material in advance, and focus on making sure their delivery is earnest and clear. Improv performers work almost entirely off the cuff, playing with one another in a very real way to make the comedy as spontaneous and energetic as possible. Some stand-ups can whip out jokes on the fly, and some improv performers do great stand-up. But in both cases, when the performers are on, the laughs flow freely.

I’ve never really liked laugh tracks. Live audiences are definitely better, especially in a show that flows organically like the above mentioned Comedy Central shows, or live shows like Saturday Night Live. Spontaneous laughter is the best. I have to wonder on some sitcoms with live audiences if there are prompts to laugh or applaud. This probably isn’t the case, but when I have trouble laughing at something like The Big Bang Theory, I find myself curious.

The thing about situation comedies is that the comedy should be in the situations. While characters certainly matter, in that their interactions and clashes either aggravate or undercut said situations, I don’t feel that the flaws or difficulties of the characters should be the crux or point of the humor. While a character with what might be called defects can put others into funny situations, said defects should not be depicted as funny in and of themselves. That method seems insensitive, and for me, it kills the humor.

That could just be me, though. Like I said, comedy is subjective. What do you find funny? What comedy for you falls flat?

“Fake” news vs. “Real” news.

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show

I was planning on writing some fiction today. It’s Friday, after all, and that’s the schedule I established for myself. But in light of last night’s riveting discussion about abortion on The Daily Show, and seeing the continuing anti-Obama rhetoric spewing out of various conservative camps, it was time for me to discuss why I get my news from a so-called “fake” source as opposed to a “real” one like, oh say for example, Fox News.

I have a problem with Fox on a fundamental level. At the cinemas, they’ve gotten into the habit of doing very unclean things to beloved stories & characters, like the X-Men. On the television, they cancel good shows like Firefly and Sarah Connor Chronicles and more often than not do bad things to the remaining shows, like 24. And then there’s their “news.” I use the quotation marks with news because Joe Scarborough or Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity will read a single headline and, rather than investigating the issue at hand, will do their utmost to verbally illustrate how subject X is against everything they believe in and everything that is morally and intrinsically right, then proceed to shout down anybody who tries to voice a dissenting or even neutral opinion. Everything to them is white or black, right or wrong, and they’re always on the side of white and right.

Everybody’s going to have their opinions, and we’re all entitled to keep and defend the ones we form as individuals. Look at Jon and Mike. They’re intelligent and opinionated adults who differ on a rather delicate and large issue. However, rather than the conservative shouting down the liberal, the two of them sit down and discuss, at length and in detail, the nuances and difficulties of the abortion issue. It’s a serious discussion, yet it’s done in an intelligent way that shows respect to both sides. If this is “liberal media bias,” I think we could all use a bit more of it.

Let’s say for example that President Obama does something that we don’t agree with. How do we best address the issue? Do we look at the entire situation, try to determine why he made the decision he rendered, and how we can inform him and the government at large that we disagree? Or do we grab the nearest media outlet and scream at the top of our lungs, calling him incompetent, asleep at the switch, communist or Muslim or whatever the conservative buzzword is that day? I’m not saying that conservatives aren’t entitled to their opinions, it’s just very difficult not to feel that the likes of the Fox battalion are less journalists & columnists and more schoolyard bullies that never grew up.

And that’s without touching Rush.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that if we treated political and social issues more like debates and less like open warfare, society as a whole would be a lot better off. Unfortunately, I’m not featured on television or radio news media, so I doubt my opinion will count for much. At least I know that in America I’m entitled to have it and cannot be condemned for it.

Unless I’m trying to discuss it with Bill O’Reilly.

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