May 31, 2012

Because You Think It’s True

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Decrees!,Idiot Box,Think About It! — Katrina @ 3:01 pm

I hereby decree…

Comedians are not philosophers!

Jokes have nothing to teach you. Hey, I love jokes! Don’t misunderstand. But they provide you no new wisdom. If they did, they wouldn’t work.

For example, consider this classic: “Horse walks into a bar and the bartender asks ‘Why the long face?'”

See, if you weren’t aware of the shape of a horse’s head, you wouldn’t get that joke. If you weren’t aware of the idiom “long face” to mean sad or depressed, you wouldn’t get that joke. The joke only works if you’re aware of these things, and the entire point is to elicit a chuckle at the clever word play.

Comedians are people whose jobs are to tell jokes. A stand-up show is like an hour of jokes flowing into each other. Therefore, they have nothing to teach you, because if they were to provide you with new information, you wouldn’t understand any of it and therefore wouldn’t get the jokes and would not be amused. So they say things based on what they assume you already know or believe.

Or they might be good at making you think you already thought or believed it anyway. I mean, did you really have an opinion on flavored coffee before you heard Denis Leary complain about it? Probably not, or at least not very strongly. Yet after hearing Denis Leary get pissed about it, suddenly you will now fly into an indignant fit if you see the words “hazelnut blend”. Because OMG why can’t we have coffee flavored coffee, why?! Oh, but you totally felt this way already, you say? Right, that’s why said indignant fit seems to quote his piece about it word for word?

But, of course, he’s a comedian, which means that “he’s saying what we’re all thinking!” And the coffee thing is “funny because it’s true”. I don’t know what’s sadder, that you’re letting a comedian tell you what to think or your supposed proud outrage over something as mind-stabbingly ridiculous as the fact that you have a choice as to what type of coffee to drink.

Did you really “notice” that pro-lifers are people “you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place”, or have any strong feelings about people wearing visors or being named Todd, before George Carlin had his say?

And Chris Rock? He definitely has no new information for you because, when you really pay attention, absolutely every moment of his stand-ups is regurgitated stereotypes on race, gender, and class. In fact, that’s what a lot of comedians do. Regurgitating stereotypes. And you eat it up. And claim to have already believed it.

Of course you probably already believed it! He would not have said it otherwise.

Or you were at least inclined to believe it. Because, again, regurgitated stereotypes and “common knowledge”.

Why isn’t any of this new to you? Because new information is not the reason you listen to a comedian. You do that to LAUGH!

Alright, you know that much. But maybe remember that much after it’s done. Because the truth is, “it’s funny because it’s true” doesn’t exactly describe comedy. In reality, it’s funny because you’re stupid enough to think it’s true. So often people finish hearing a stand-up thinking not only “wow, he’s funny!” but actually thinking “wow, he is so right!” And that’s fucking dangerous, because everything you just heard was for the purpose of making you laugh and is not meant to be taken seriously!

Okay, maybe you laughed when in “Never Scared” Chris Rock claimed that a father’s only job in raising a daughter is “keep her off the pole”, but if you with any seriousness are walking around believing that the single most important or only aspect to parenting a little girl is whether or not she becomes a stripper some day, you need a tire iron upside the head.

Hey, Chris Rock probably doesn’t even believe that himself (or, well, he might). He said it because there’s a lot of sexist assholes out there who believe what their daughters do with their own lady parts reflects upon them in any way, so they’ll laugh right along at that statement. Yes, it is reinforcing harmful ideas about girls and parenting, but comedians aren’t the people you look to to change the world or revolutionize ideas. It’s their job to profit and provide amusement based off current widely held ideas, no matter how wrong or harmful.

Can’t really fault the comedians for it, either. Not totally anyway. Because the only reason it works is because of the dumbasses out there who think the funny men and women on stage are there to teach them how to live and think. There’s a common criticism that you’re not supposed to get offended at a joke (although it’s weirdly refreshing when someone says it because it’s a damn fine asshole-detector), but what would make certain offensive jokes much less offensive is if there weren’t so many idiots who accept it as true. If there weren’t people out there being in some way harmed because the ideas the jokes are based on are being taken seriously.

But admittedly, in this sense, the jokes are merely a symptom, a result. You know what’s a lot more offensive than rape jokes? The fact that people get raped. And the fact that someone hearing a joke about rape, especially if not referred to as such, might take that shit seriously as a proper way to behave. You know what’s a lot more offensive than anti-semitic jokes and those about the Holocaust? The fact the Holocaust happened and there are a lot of anti-semitic assholes out there who deny it happened and/or treat Jews like shit, taking seriously the basis of the Jew joke they just heard. The jokes themselves did not plant these ideas in their heads to begin with, but they sure help encourage it.

Really, comedy like this profits off your ignorance and makes you unaware of it. It certainly doesn’t cure it. If anything, it makes it harder to cure, because if you knew better on some of these issues, you might not find the jokes funny anymore and you don’t want to not laugh!

Of course, considering plenty of comedy gems include George Carlin’s “Something ate something else!” and other such wonderful silliness, laughter shall continue to exist!

Jethro Tull sang “And the wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.” Now, Ian Anderson isn’t any more a philosopher than the comedians are, but you might say the comedians are those wise men who must find a way to know what being thick is like. It takes intelligence to come up with jokes, but in order to be successful and profitable, it must appeal to the (stupid) masses. Therefore, it’s mostly repackaged “common knowledge” because if there were any truth or new information, the masses would go “huh?” and walk away.

Now enjoy the rest of your day with a flute playing in your head.

This has been Day 8 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 12.

1 Comment

  1. flute flute flute BAAH MAKE IT STOP!

    Thanks for making so much sense, Kat. (Can you tell I’m on a Sure, Why Not? archive journey? 😀 )

    Comment by wedway — January 29, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed. Go away.

Powered by WordPress