Monday, September 29, 2014

Naughty or Nice: Is it Not a Laughing Matter?

I had the opportunity over the weekend to see my son, Jesse, perform his stand-up comedy at the annual Salt Lake City Comedy Carnival. He was great. He got lots of laughs by using his intellect to expose the absurdities of life. However, I can't say the same about the other comics who shared the bill with him. The MC, who introduce each act, seemed to be trying to get as many obscenities  he possibly could in each sentence. The other three comics, apart from Jesse, followed suit, adding in descriptions of their deviant sexual behavior. Everyone at my table were incapable of separating the vulgarity from the truly humorous elements of the comics' bits. Where Jesse was able to get laughter and applause by his humorous takes on modern society's love affair "gluten intolerance" and  how work and jobs are like romantic relationships, The others found it necessary to shock the audience into uncomfortable laughter.

Maybe my friends and I are the exceptions, but we don't find gutter language and foul expletives funny anywhere else, so why should we think it funny or even slightly amusing on stage when a comedian uses it.  I work with the construction trades as a safety professional, so I visit job sites most days and get to hear expletives of all kinds and in more than one language. It never thrills me. I never feel compelled to laugh when I hear limited vocabulary of the meaner kind. It seems to me that the users of offensive language were once kids trying out the "adult" words, just as they did when they started smoking and drinking alcohol because it makes them feel older and more sophisticated, but they never realized the fallacy.   I suppose the same is true with the audiences who get a kick out of hearing the silly, offensive drivel.  I picture in my mind the little kids smoking behind the garage or barn looking at porn and giggling to each other and patting themselves on the back for their "adult" behavior.

It would seem to me that the "comedians"--I use the term loosely--who go in for the crude and racy material should look around to see who are some of the most successful in their chosen field, who shy away from the   Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, etc. are largely pretty clean comedians and have really broad fan appeal. Even the very mentally sick among us would agree that they are funny. I know that some will point to the likes of Red Fox and Richard Prior and say they were really funny and successful. I just say that they knew and played to their audiences. They didn't get really successful until they broadened their audience base, to include prime time TV and PG movies.

In my humble opinion, the truth is that clean comedians are funnier and more creative in their craft than the the crude and dirty comics.  They point out the humorous reality and absurdities in the world and help us recognize them and laugh at ourselves. The dirty comedians only titillate the darker natures of humanity. The thing we don't need is more crap thrown in our faces.