By staff writer E. Mike Tuckerson
April 23, 2007
“The Article Has Been Aged Two Months for Flavor”
They exist, man. Somewhere out there in a boardroom, on a golf course, in the drive-thru at an Arby’s, there is someone who clearly hates comedy. There exists someone who despises the comedic genius that could once impale viewers’ ribcages and tickle their collective funny bones from the inside. Otherwise, it’s hard to see why the state of sketch comedy has declined to the brink of creating martyrs out of weekly viewers. Seriously, watching SNL is like diving on a grenade and hoping to explode with laughter.
It appears someone out there actually does love quality sketch comedy though (and the money it brings). When our powers combine, you too can visit www.the-state.com to see what I’m talking about. Provided you either clicked the link or already knew of The State, you may have an idea of why the allies of The State are jointly “dipping their balls” in the iTunes release of season one. Normally, I wouldn’t crawl forth from the cavernous den of shame in which my writer’s block has held me hostage. However, once I verified (via paper cups and string no less) that this was not merely wishful thinking, but in fact Providence™, I sought the nearest crevice through which my head could escape. Witnesses confirm it was my own ass.
“When it comes to fast-food comedy, originality and depth are often sold separately.”
On a deeper note, it’s not really difficult to understand how the decline in sketch comedy mainstays may have stifled the DVD release of older sketch material like The State or Kids in the Hall. If you were a current SNL executive, would you want to remind the world how good sketch comedy once was, even if you produced it? Sadly, before the commercial union of iTunes and Viacom, only eBay auctions, Columbian video mules, and YouTube were reliable means of securing passage into The State. Clearly such mediums are about as comprehensive as a trailer for Pulp Fiction. Hopefully, you’ll have a chance to check out those episodes and see for yourself.
Now, I was away from the communal writing institution we call PIC for a bit, but I assure you it is not a direct result of the carpal tunnel slowly collapsing inside my phalanges. In fact, I contend that a debilitating disorder would likely provide catalyst enough to push completion of my numerous writing projects. Instead, I simply battle to overcome my own mocha blend of apathy and comedic malaise. As with many current iterations of sketch comedies and films, things have simply gone stale. I posit that I’m just no longer gung-ho about generic humor writing, and that’s pretty much what the masses clamor for these days.
Ha. Got you there. For a second, you thought I was one of those Whitman-quoting, Twain-emulating, hyphen-abusing “humor snobs.” Wait—I am one of them. Still though, the snob part is a bit harsh. I’m not entirely against what currently passes as humor writing. I see the humor in most of it. I just miss where some of it constitutes actual writing. Aw, snap, son! For those of you “humorists” of whom I just referred, I believe I just “went there” and then banged your mom while you were out. You might think I’m playing, but seriously—tell her I loved the muffins. Now back to the comedy.
If comedy were like a brand of jeans, there is a chance this analogy could shape up enough to make sense. Instead, comedy is a vastly subjective concept that simply conforms to societal pressures, just like religion, political alignment, and preferred lubricants (boysenberry syrup from IHOP works as long as you don’t have to “earn” it from an IHOP waitress… ever again). Unfortunately, current comedic trends have led to an excess of a comedic genre I call “fast food comedy.” For your edification:
Fast-food comedy (n.): Humor intended to provide laughter for the lowest common denominator.
If comedy were a pie (let’s say banana crème), then fast-food comedy is a slice that is large enough to please many people, but not rich enough to nourish their soul. In fact, when it comes to fast-food comedy, originality and depth are often sold separately. Though the word “lowest” is included in my definition, fast-food comedy isn’t the lowest of the art form—it’s just the genre that meets the largest collective appetite. Past examples of fast-food comedy include, “your mama” jokes, pickup-lines, and the often popular “men versus women/relationship/black people do this and white people do this” comedy. If you’re uncertain what I’m referring to, you probably shouldn’t procreate. In fact, ask your doctor about Euthanasia® and how it might be right for you. I admit the origins of many pop-culture phenomena are debatable. Not here though. Nope. I coined and trademarked the very concept of Fast-food Comedy. I also have a summer line of designer Fast-food Comedy® condoms, children’s cough syrup, and antiperspirants.*
From the ganja-smoking, 8th year philosophy/botany/linguistics major to the mild-mannered yet self-hating misogynist, everyone is entitled to their personal tastes in humor. Some humor palettes are only satiated by obscure, high-brow humor like the politically inflammatory Family Circus. For others, a satirical analysis of gender relations using such words as “bitch,” “ass,” or “dirigible” is just what the doctor ordered. At different times, each of us may favor one form of humor over the other. It’s okay to be different though. Such is part of what keeps us unique. In fact, some people’s tastes are comparable to those of bestiality-lovers; but let’s not forget how much they help boost the economy and overall barnyard self-esteem.
Fast-food comedy often emulates the product it is named after. To some audiences, a constant diet of fast-food comedy is acceptable. It’s just that such laughs are hardly guaranteed to please everyone at every moment, even if an occasional live stripper is included.** Sometimes more is needed, and often levity is best found surrounded by a greater sense of purpose.
The reality is that sometimes everyone requires a varied diet of humor, a variety of which sites such as this attempts to provide. If your particular palette is not satisfied, we ask that you consider leaving comments for what you would like to see. Also, we appreciate the comments that actually pertain to our works themselves; they inspire us to greater creativity and even help us provide you with more than references to the ever-popular “vitamins T & A.” Comedy, unlike your other diets, should not require you to see a physician. However, if you do decide to see a doctor, tell them PIC sent you. When they buckle up your straight jacket, rest assured that at least we appreciate your commitment to humor. From all of us to all of you(r multiple personalities), thanks for the patronage.
As for the future of my column here at PIC, in many ways the answers lie in the life and lyrics of Sam Cooke: “It’s been a long, long time coming; but change gonna come.” While I’m aware that some of what I wrote might appear “condescending” or “aimed at you, David Wilheim of Seneca Falls, NY,” I simply accept your right to believe what you will. Besides, somebody had to say it, and my balls are swollen enough to do it.
*Some assembly required. Not available in all states.
**Ph-balanced for a woman, yet strong enough to disarm an atomic bomb. Ask Bono.