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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Don't Worry; Be Funny

To the best of my knowledge, Bobby McFerrin never did stand-up. That's probably why his music is so relaxing.
We humans demand that the natural cadence and organic happenstance of humor be artificially manufactured in a social arrangement reminiscent of a firing squad.
What did I just say?
We treat our entertainers like convicted felons. We put them under blinding lights; bring in scores of demanding faceless people and then tell the poor saps to be funny.
Go ahead! Make me laugh!
Stand up comedy is conceptually a lot like clowning. Clowns paint their faces to evoke lightness and fun but end up creepy. We figured the clown/creepy thing out decades ago, and the horror industry is still cashing in. When do we start making horror flicks about stand-up?
Pine Street is a quiet road in a typical suburban town. Johnny Belcher's parents have left him alone for the night. Johnny thought he was inviting a few friends for beers and fun, until it all went wrong. You'll laugh till you bleed when you see, Amateur Comedy Night on Pine Street!
Maybe comedy has always had this sadistic underbelly. According to Mel Brooks comedy began with a guy who was eaten by a dinosaur. I trust Brooks' mastery of history even above my teachers in high school.
Invention of the candy gram? Mr. Jones' history class didn't cover that.

After the dinosaur shtick got old, wealthy humor connoisseurs developed the court jester. On the surface the concept seemed civilized, even compassionate. You dress up some schmo in motley. Pick a guy that's too puny to swing a sword. Everybody needs a job, right? The rich noble guy is just being kind.
"Good evening Ladies and Germs!"
But these jesters got pelted by hard and disgusting objects. Have you ever tried to be funny while people are throwing spoiled mutton? Not that the Jesters weren’t grateful when diners threw meat. You’d be grateful for a diversionary portion of sheep’s butt too if a pack of the noble guy's wolf hounds were looking at you like you might be their new chew toy.

One way or the other, the noble guy gets his chuckles.
To reference Mel Brooks again, "When you die at the palace, you DIE at the palace."
So comedy is cruel. Its purpose is to embarrass, degrade, injure, maim or kill people who are just trying to make you happy.
Kind of like dating.
As a matter of fact, the patron saint of comedy, St. Genesius Martinus of Rome is also the patron saint of torture victims! (He's also the p.s. for plumbers. I always thought a lot of plumber’s tools looked sadistic.)

But every night, modern-day jesters line up at open mike nights hoping for their big break. The just want to help people forget their troubles and have a laugh.
Nothing to worry about. Just go with the flow. Pretend the boos, catcalls, and death threats are nothing more cruel than accompanying music - maybe with a lilting Caribbean beat.
Because comedy is the profession of masochists. It's the hopeless pursuit of approval by sadistic masses of ungrateful jerks.

Kind of like parenting teenagers.

Love this song.