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July 21, 2014

Netroots Goofs Discuss Why People on the Left Aren't Funny

Well, actually they claim that people on the left are super-funny, but maybe there's been some problem getting that message out.

People on the right, they avow, are only perceived as "funny" because they make racist jokes.

"The Left is supposed to be funnier than the Right, damn it," the panel description stated. "So why do we so often sound in public like we’re stiltedly reading from a non-profit grant proposal?"

This defensive tone was apparent throughout the hour-plus session, brought up repeatedly by speakers and audience members. Much like a co-worker who doesn’t get anyone's jokes but insists, "I have a great sense of humor!"

...

"Comedy creates oneness and that is what our side wants," according to Julianna Forlano, host of a news parody without laughter cues called "Absurdity Today."

Absurdity Today -- well, that title alone tells me to tune in for some top-drawer comedy entertainment.

I'm also pretty sure that the best New York and LA comedians talk a lot about creating "a oneness."

She noted how her stand-up performance even created "oneness" at a Pennsylvania Elks Lodge, despite the crowd being filled with racist men (she could tell they were racist from the animal heads displayed on the walls).

Katie Halper agreed with her fellow white comic that racism is endemic in their industry. "When the right says we have no sense of humor, it's a great way for racist/sexist/homophobic men to make themselves seem funny." Halper is a founding principal of Qualified Laughter, a production company "dedicated to comedic social justice media."

Qualified Laughter -- why that sounds like another laugh riot.

Jon Gabriel's piece is worth a read. He notes that the first African-American female member of SNL's cast in a long, long time got in hot water with black critics for making irreverent jokes about slavery.

You can check Jon's link for that, but the basic joke was that she was complaining that only beautiful women are praised, whereas truly "useful" ones like herself -- six feet tall and ready to brawl -- don't get the proper level of praise for their "usefulness" (such as in a back-alley barfight).

She then went on a riff about how, during slavery, she would definitely be valued for her usefulness, and in fact would be assigned to marry the "hottest" male slaves available.

Now, I didn't think this was very funny. Not due to outrage; it was just unfunny in the same way many SNL bits are unfunny, to wit, they just aren't funny.

But offensive?

So this in a nutshell is why the left can't be funny. What this comic was doing was a standard, basic, 101-level comedy trope: mining laughs by treating serious circumstances irreverently. She was hoping for laughs by talking up, strangely, the "good side" of slavery, at least for women like herself, who are more "useful" than beautiful.

And part of what she was doing was playing a character: The character who is so dumb she doesn't realize that slavery would have a lot of downsides that would greatly outweigh any hypothetical impact on her dating options.

But of course this woman knows that. Duh! The whole joke is based on upon her knowledge that the audience will find her statements funny (or, at least, unexpected and incongruous) because of how obviously wrongheaded they are.

She knows it's wrong to talk about slavery as having an Upside. The entire joke hinges on this knowledge being so widely known and deeply felt so as to create a sense of incongruity and absurdity as she goes off on her riff.

And yet her humorless prog critics had to inform her: You know, despite your claims to the contrary, slavery was not a good deal for single women or any other sort of women. *

Really.

I didn't think her jokes were that good. But the fact that she had to publicly answer her very public critics about their absurd claims that she was actually suggesting to people that maybe slavery is kinda like a feel-good romantic comedy demonstrates why the political left is so rarely funny.

It's because many jokes -- not all jokes, but a bit chunk of them, like 40% -- rely on establishing a tension between what the comedian and audience knows is true, and what the comedian is actually saying.

Treating something serious in an irreverent way.

Yes, the comic knows what she's talking about is a Serious Matter. When Sarah Silverman used to tell her rape joke -- that she'd been raped by a doctor, which, she said, for a Jewish girl, is bittersweet -- Sarah Silverman obviously knows that rape is a very serious and horrible thing which should not be joked about.

Which is precisely why she is joking about it. Because the forbidden spaces are often where you find the new and unexpected things.

But anyway, the left has a tremendous number of sacred cows. Every little feel and bother they have, they believe to be Very Serious Indeed, and thus exclude from the realm of joking about 90% of the subjects in the human experience.

Of course, another huge trope of joking is the provocatively cynical statement -- stating, hyperbolically, something dark about human motivations.

And progressive thugs can't bear any joking on that score either, because what they're sure about, more than anything else in the world, is the absolute metaphysical purity of their motives in all their behaviors and demands of their fellow citizens.

And joking about that isn't funny. Indeed, it's heretical and blood libel.


* Actually it occurs to me that this is an important part of progressive priggishness. Whereas I would assume that of course the audience of SNL understands that Slavery is Bad, the psychologically-driven progressive activists feel an intense need to feel superior to other people, and therefore posit, ludicrously, that a significant fraction of SNL's audience might actually think that Slavery Wasn't So Bad and may think this woman is actually making Good Points about the upside of slavery.

They have to flatter themselves by thinking they're smarter than everyone else, but as they're not particularly smart, they have to conceive as the majority of people as being absolutely stupid, at nearly-handicapped levels.

So, yeah, for this sort of "progressive" who is chiefly into the "politics" of the progressive movement as a way to process his own mediocrity (or submediocrity) -- I can see the absolute necessity of constantly postulating that upwards of 60% of the country is borderline mentally retarded and in need of guidance from the 92 IQ All-Stars of the Progressive Left.

By the Way, SNL: Stop having your new cast members come on Weekend Update to do three minutes of their stand-up comedy act by way of introduction.

It's never funny. And I do mean "never."

I think John Mulaney is very funny in his standup act, but when they had him do the same standup bit on Weekend Update, I stared at it stone-faced.

Theoretically I should at least have smiled in recognition, but I didn't.

It's just not the place for it. It's not the format of the show. When a comic comes on and just does three minutes of her act, the audience immediately realizes "Hey, this isn't the SNL format" and wonders, subconsciously, why they're breaking format for this lame bit.

And the reason is -- and I think most people get this -- is that they are trying to prove their new recruit is funny.

So it seems forced and strained, like we're supposed to laugh at the New Girl just because it's her First Week.

But we don't.

So just stop this whole practice entirely. If someone wants to get on the show, they should be bringing new material, and material that fits the SNL format, not barely-rewritten stand-up riffs.

I would also ask that this material be funny, but that is quite far out of reach for anyone on SNL these days.


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posted by Ace at 04:37 PM

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