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Don't Shit Where You Eat! ™

Shut Up and Tell Dick Jokes, Revisited

Comedy Posted on Sun, February 04, 2024 17:46:09

Lisa Kudrow, on Black Mirror as a parody of a right-wing pundit, said something along the lines of, “Conservative voices are being silenced! It’s like I said on Joe Rogan, on Jordan Peterson, twice on Tucker Carlsson, and in my best-selling book ‘Conservatives are Being Silenced!’ And I’ll keep saying it, because conservative voices are being silenced!”

Here is a common rookie move, one I’ve made myself- comic tells a joke, someone in the crowd has an unusually strong reaction, typically negative. In future sets, comic tells that joke, then the story of what happened that one time they told it. I once saw a comic get a strong reaction to a joke, then, at another club while telling the story of what happened that other time they told it, someone reacted strongly to his story. I then saw him, a month later, tell the joke, then the story of what happened when he told the joke, then the story of what happened the time he told the story of what happened when he told the joke.

Anyway, I was reminded of this while watching Dave Chappelle’s latest special.

Good Lord, I am so tired of hearing comics complain they’re not allowed to say anything while saying anything they want. Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in limits to speech, but I also believe in consequences. Gilbert Gottfried lost his job as a duck because he made insensitive jokes about the tsunami in Japan. Let me repeat that- he lost his job as a fucking duck. Bummer. I’m sure it took a short-term financial toll. In the long-term, he got to die a titan of the comedy industry.

I love John Cleese but I don’t love hearing him in interview after interview, oh waahh everyone is so sensitive these days and you can’t say anything anymore. Except he is. I’m reminded of a phrase I heard shouted on Monty Python many, many times: “Get on with it!”

I’d have more patience if these iconoclasts, these rebels, would have something profound to say in the face of relentless censorship. They don’t. I’ve seen Chappelle and Jimmy Carr and several others do, instead, the following- “Oooh, I’ll get canceled for this, but here it comes! [insert joke a rookie with two weeks’ experience could write] Uh oh, I was kicking down, now I’m canceled, wink wink!”

It’s just so fucking boring. I don’t think Chappelle returns to this well, over and over, because he’s lazy or following the path of least resistance. I don’t even think he’s pandering to his base. I think he’s obsessing over a not unsubstantial amount of people reacting poorly to his jokes. Like a rookie recounting the story, he can’t let it go. I expect better. I don’t know why I keep watching his specials; maybe it’s me being self-destructive, purposely watching something I know will annoy me, or maybe it’s out of hope he’ll pull himself out of this creative nosedive.

Podcasting for a Dummy

Comedy Posted on Mon, January 29, 2024 06:28:35

We live during a time that it seems everyone and their mother has a podcast. For years, that motivated me to start one of my own. After all, if many of my peers were doing it, why shouldn’t I? At the same time, it equally discouraged me from doing the same. After all, if everyone else is doing it, why should I?

The urge persisted, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that I finally did something about it. I was surprised by how little I missed performing and thought about all the comics I’d seen quit over the years and not understanding why. I could interview them and maybe that would help me understand my own relationship with standup.

To make it happen, though, I had a few hurdles to overcome. One was as I mentioned above, why bother putting out a podcast that no one will listen to? Well, some people will, but that’s not the important part. I’d be doing it for me. In that sense, maintaining this blog helped motivate the pod, because I write this for me and whomever else cares to read it.

The biggest obstacle, however, was getting off the couch. Well, that’s not entirely fair, as I was at the gym five to seven days a week. The gym is a five-minute walk from my apartment, though, and the thought of going further than that was exhausting. Literally and figuratively. Getting ahead of myself here, but I once recorded two episodes in Stockholm in one day and I could barely function afterward. Whatever the opposite of cabin fever is, I got it from the pandemic, and doing a podcast and, later, working part-time as game show host, helped get me out of it.

Throughout my life, there were instances when I had a great idea to do something and then never acted on it. “It’s better to regret something you have done, than something you haven’t done,” as they say. I don’t like looking back and thinking what if and I didn’t want to add this podcast idea to that list, so I was finally motivated to shit or get off the pot, to use that lovely saying.

Naturally, it helped that I would be interviewing friends, or at least people I’d known for over a decade. I also intentionally planned it as a limited series so I wouldn’t have to do a new one every week or feel bad about it running out of juice. It was fun to learn how to do it, from recording to posting, and I had great support in making all the graphics come out the way I liked (shout-out to David T. Weaver). I never cared that it’s incredibly amateur. No need for studios or top-notch equipment, I can record and film wherever with a laptop and one microphone! When you do something mostly for yourself, quality doesn’t need to be a priority. Again, see this blog.

I enjoyed doing it and figured I could eventually do a second season with a new theme, I’d just need to wait until I had a good idea for one. Only took two years but I finally had the idea to talk to rookies who made their debuts during the pandemic. Well, the real motivation was realizing I was paying a host every month to keep my podcast online, and figuring I’d better put out something new or just get rid of the damned thing. Shit or get off the pot, again.

There was only one obstacle this time, but it was a doozy. As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, I’m not the most social guy around, and during the first season I’d had the luxury of talking to people I’d known for a long time. This time, I’d be interviewing people I barely knew at all, if at all. I knew from personal experience, though, that everyone likes to be invited to a podcast and that all comics love to talk about themselves. I wouldn’t need to talk so much myself and holy shit is that a good thing; rewatching them now, it’s shocking, even to me, how badly I mumble, how quickly I speak when I’m nervous or not paying attention.

I thought I’d record a few episodes before I started releasing them, but I got a little too complacent with that. Now, in January 2024, I edited the first few episodes I recorded and listened as we discussed our Summer 2023 plans. Okay, can’t blame covid for making me lazy, but in my defense, my PS5 won’t play itself. At least the second season is finally underway.

After the finale, I’ll keep the podcast up until I get an idea for a third season. Hopefully the muse will take less time to inspire. Until then, may spite and selfishness motivate you as much as they motive me.

An Irish Exit

Comedy Posted on Mon, January 22, 2024 03:01:34

I looked forward to this year’s Winter party at my job. We have two company parties a year, they’re always fun, and I always leave earlier than everyone else as I have a long commute home with few travel options. This time, I got a hotel room in the city so that I wouldn’t have to bail out early. Usually, the party is in December, but for some reason was in January this time. In the middle of my annual Dry January. I figured I’d earned an exception and enjoyed a few beers during the day.

I had a great time… until I didn’t. After one taco at dinner, I began feeling nauseous. I didn’t want to leave, but it was hard to concentrate on anything. Despite being in a public venue, I seriously considered pulling the trigger – puking on purpose – except the few bathroom stalls were barely large enough to fit a toilet. I did my best to push on anyway, managing a game of Dutch Curling, but when ping-pong was next on the agenda I knew it was time to leave. Fortunately, my hotel room was a ten-minute walk away, where I promptly and violently threw up and then fell asleep.

Naturally, when I left the party, I didn’t say goodbye to anyone. This, apparently, is my way of leaving every event these days. An Irish Exit.

This method of bailing on a party has many names. I’d always known it as a French Exit, but my kid says it’s Irish Exit, and who am I to argue with young people. Besides, she says it’s more appropriate as I’m Irish. Okay, not biologically but I identify as Irish and how dare you question my truth.

(Sigh. The whole “I identify as…” bit is hack and I hereby vow to not use it again.)

I wouldn’t say I was particularly social prior to covid, but I was quite the butterfly compared to my current status. At parties, there’s usually two guys in a corner, locked in conversation, too busy trying to save the world than have fun with everyone else. I was always one of those guys. At mingles – shudder – I never worked the room, I’d stand in one place and talk to whomever came near. Instead of social butterfly, a social Venus Fly Trap. I was rarely last man standing, but never in a hurry to leave.

These days, I’m below the radar and prefer to stay there. You know how Norm would walk into Cheers, say, “Hello, everybody,” and the whole bar would go, “Norm!”? I’m about as far from that as one could be. This isn’t a pity party or me beating myself up, it just is how it is. I like me. But I’m not Mr. Charisma, I don’t take up space, I’m not larger than life. Which is odd to Swedes as they expect that of me as an American.

Instead of lighting up a room, I’m much more likely to scare the shit out of someone when they turn around and find me standing there, as if I’d appeared from nowhere. If social ninjitsu was a thing, I’d be a third-degree black belt. At parties and even standup clubs, I have fun until I don’t, which is usually a sudden vibe, and then I just want to leave as quickly and as quietly as possible. I feel invisible to others so I make myself more so, making it self-fulfilling. Not standing out has led to many missed opportunities, social and otherwise.

All that said, I do feel like I’m in a better place than I was even a year ago, and that things will continue to improve. I told another comic recently that I still feel like I’m coming back into the world. Going into exile and then the pandemic hitting, there was a long period of time when just going anywhere other than the gym was physically and mentally exhausting. My motivation may be low but at least it exists, which is saying something.

I Don’t Get It

Comedy Posted on Sun, January 14, 2024 07:45:56

There’s a pivotal scene in the movie Big where Tom Hanks’s character Josh – a 12-year-old boy magically changed into an adult man – completely derails a toy pitch meeting. A seasoned executive shows off his idea for a toy, nearly everyone accepts it, until this manchild raises his hand and says, “I don’t get it.” This results in the idea getting shot down and a promotion for Josh.

I think of this often, not just because I relate to being a manchild. I often have this same reaction to other comics. Call it jealousy if you like, but I’m just as likely, if not more so, to react this way to someone’s attempt at success than their actual success.

To be clear, I am very aware that humor is subjective. That said, I don’t need to find someone funny to understand why they’re successful. In fact, I’ve had direct conversations with two separate comics when I said, “Your comedy isn’t for me and that’s okay, because it’s not meant for me.” To one of them, I said this after watching three minutes of one episode before deciding his entire TV series wasn’t for me. And I wonder why I don’t have friends.

I think, “I don’t get it,” most often as a gut reaction to clips comics post on social media. I love seeing the devolution of the comedy hour into the “half-hour comedy hour” into the 30-second TikTok clip. We’ll be seeing five-second clips soon. Anyway, since no one wants to “burn” “quality” material by exposing it online, it’s more popular for comics to post crowd work. The problem, however, is that when we talk to someone in the crowd, we don’t have to be especially funny or clever. We just need to be fast. Done right, we show the crowd how confident we are, how skilled, and they know this is an organic moment crafted for them and them alone.

In a video clip, days later? Not nearly as meaningful. We add subtitles to clips since it’s very common for people to watch them with the sound off, so the crowd may have laughed hysterically at your unfunny but quick, I hesitate to call it a joke, but no one will hear that reaction, they’ll just see the transcript. Which leads me to wonder why it was posted at all. Which also discourages me from posting clips myself, because I don’t want people to react to me the same way.

There are times when I’m in a club, not laughing at the comic onstage, but the crowd is pissing themselves. That comic’s success is not a mystery to me. There are times when I’m not laughing, the crowd isn’t laughing, and it makes sense that the comic never gets past the open mic level. There are times, though, when I’m not laughing, the crowd isn’t laughing, and the comic is in high demand throughout the country. That I don’t get, because it must involve a level of social skills and likeability – at least off stage – that I’ll never attain.

I don’t get that comics can be successful while also openly and shamelessly stealing from other comics. Well, that’s not completely true, I do get that audiences neither know nor particularly care where the jokes come from. You know what, I take it back, I do get why they get away with it. It’s because comics, rather than openly confronting and shunning them, just talk shit in the clubs and make vague, passive-aggressive comments in blogs. Ahem. (To be fair, I stumble into more than enough beefs without actively seeking drama.)

I guess it’s okay that I don’t always get it, because what is life without a little mystery? Now I feel like rewatching Big, haven’t seen it in years. There’s a tendency for Hollywood to make female remakes of old movies, but I think Big is pretty safe from that. Unless you think people will think it’s just as romantic to see a woman with the mind of a 12-old-year girl have sex with a grown man. As Carlin said, “Let’s not have a double standard. One standard will do just fine.”

In Like a Lamb?

Comedy Posted on Mon, January 08, 2024 07:40:39

Before I begin this week’s post (first of the year!) I should mention something I forgot to put into my 2023 year in review: I quit snus. Sure, doesn’t have anything to do with comedy, but it was a big change for me. For the first time in a decade, I don’t have nicotine coursing through my veins every waking minute. Other than a week of serious depression – which I could’ve had just as easily while still a user – quitting was easy. It’s been several months now, but I still feel a craving now and then. I’m also a lot more tired, but I suppose that’s natural for a man my age.

When I quit, a comic asked me what new vice I had picked up instead. He’s convinced that we always have a stable level of vices. Honestly, nothing new here, just a stable level of sloth and gluttony.

While 2023 threatened to end on a down note, it picked up by the end. Christmas was lovely, had a lot of fun on New Year’s Eve. My first gig of 2024 was last Friday, hosting Maffia Comedy, and it was amazing. I could tell by the reaction to my first joke that the crowd was ready, able, and most importantly, willing to laugh. One of those nights that don’t feel like work at all.

Saturday, I hosted my first two game shows at On Air since before Christmas. Didn’t feel rusty, had a lot of fun, both groups gave me a rating of “Very Good” online afterward. Hosted Maffia that night, too, had to work a little harder to get laughs but it still went just as well for me. During the break, as I stood talking to a comic who had been on earlier, a woman walked up to us, gave me a fist bump, said I was great. Didn’t acknowledge the other comic at all. Normally, this would’ve been the other way around.

Back on Friday, I’d posted a short video on Instagram and Facebook as a reel that my kid helped me film. It was a joke, the punchline being, “It’s called Winter, happens every year, stop complaining.” I’m trying to post more content, more often, and since this one quickly got over 500 views and a ton of positive reactions, it’s very encouraging! Although I learned today that a Swedish comic in my network, also on Friday, tweeted (not going to say X’d) a joke, the punchline being, “It’s called Winter, happens every year, stop complaining.” It was in Swedish and the setup was different, at least, but I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Now, it does look like he posted that just before I did, so it could be (probably is) parallel thinking.

The fact that his post has currently over 20K views, though, that gives me mixed feelings. I was, and am, happy with my result, especially since I didn’t include any hashtags (I’m almost 50 and have no idea how they work), my Facebook is private and I only recently reopened my Insta to public. I’d love to get the numbers he gets, even though I should also be happy to be happy with a number he’d think was so low he’d want to jump in front of train.

There’s an old saying, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.” It has a dozen different meanings, but when I first learned it, it was a reference to late-Winter weather in March. If March started with rough weather, it would end with a mild start to Spring. If the weather was mild at the start, though, it would end with a rough start to Spring. Basically meaning that we have to pay for the good, sooner or later.

Now, with 2024 off to such a good start (other than my continuing unemployment), I’d love to believe that things will only get better from here! But while, at the end of the day, I do think I’m an optimist, I can’t help but worry about the other shoe dropping. (I’ve never been afraid to mix metaphors.) Is 2024 in like a lamb, out like a lion? Nothing to do but wait and see and appreciate the good times while they last.

2023 Year in Review

Comedy Posted on Sun, December 31, 2023 08:39:36

Earlier this month, someone posted on an expat Facebook forum, “What’s an American thing but Americans think everyone outside of America does it?”  While I rarely interact with anyone on social media these days, especially total strangers, I felt an urge to do so in this case.  I wrote, “Caring about America.”

Americans believe that everyone around the world loves us and that everyone around the world hates us.  We hold these beliefs simultaneously, unaware that they cancel each other out, since irony has never been our strong suit. I’m sure I felt the same way until I left the US and met people from all over.  Now, I did meet a Kurd from Iraq who had a passionate opinion about America, quite the opposite of positive, but the truth is, most people neither love nor hate the US.  They have their own lives, their own cultures, and America isn’t as top of mind as we think is.  The opinion of most is ambivalence, when we come to mind at all.

It’s time for my 2023 year in review!  (The reason I opened the way I did will become clear.)  I meant to write this a few weeks ago, but I was feeling a bit melancholy after canceling Thanksgiving.  The reason to do so is too long and boring to write here but suffice it to say I was bummed.  It’s one of the few times of the year I get truly homesick, and I didn’t want to write this while in a blue frame of mind.

I said in my review of 2022 that it was an interesting year.  Well, I certainly understand why, “May you live in interesting times,” is a curse, as I’d describe 2023 the same way.  I’ve seen some positive changes, some negative, and feel that I’ve made progress and also none at all.  A strange feeling, to say the least.

Let’s start with the negative.  I’ve said, over and over again, that comics reach a point, early on, where they begrudge other comics their success.  That we either let it go and enjoy our own success, or remain bitter and angry forever, and that I was happy to be amongst the former.  That’s still true, but I find myself increasingly angry at other comics, not for their success, but for their bullshit.  My Lord, there is so much bullshit.  Much more than I care to detail here, but it’s everything from hypocrisy to inane clips.

Two things at play here.  First, I’m aware of the bullshit because of social media.  For a brief, shining moment, I stayed away from it and felt much better about my life.  But as I’ve increased my standup activity, I’ve increased the amount of time I spend on Facebook and Instagram.  Even if the amount of my interactions are still miniscule compared to years ago, I’m seeing more, and not liking what I see.  The second thing is that big bullshit and minor bullshit seem to affect me the same, which is to say too much.

If anything positive can be said for jealousy, it would be that it can be a motivator.  Jealous a comic got booked at a club but you didn’t?  Maybe that will fire you up and you’ll try harder to get that gig!  So if I have to waste energy caring about other comics, I’d prefer jealousy.  Unfortunately, there’s nothing motivational about being too aware of the bullshit and nonsense out there.  The opposite, in fact.  I still love standup, of course, but any minute spent thinking of nonsense – for no good reason – is a minute not spent on new material, grinding for gigs, planning a new club of my own.  I said last year that I had an urge to open a club and I still do, except it’s even less likely now.

On a positive note, I think I’ve reached a Zen level when it comes to ego.  I didn’t mention it in my 2022 review, but I struggled quite a bit with how others think of me.  Since then, I’ve gone from worrying how others think of me, to not caring what they think of me, to accepting that they don’t think of me as much as I thought.  I’m like America that way.  (See?  Told you the opening would pay off.)  Some people have passionate feelings about me, one way or the other, but most people have too much on their minds to make room for little old me.  And I’m no more visible this year than I was last year.

That being said, 2023 gave me my first corporate gig in many years, and while I think I can count the clubs I performed at on one hand, I performed in Norway, again for the first time in years.  I believe that gig turned a profit of $10, but I didn’t do it for the money!  I did make a fair amount of that, though, throughout the year, not enough to live on but enough to make life easier, so I appreciate that.

I even got off my ass long enough to record new episodes for my podcast!  Well, kind of.  I wanted to bank a bunch before I started releasing them and ended up banking and not releasing.  With January looming, however, I’ll have lots of sober time on my hands to finally get those out.  Hopefully it will motivate me to think of a topic for a third season, so it isn’t another two years before that comes out, but one thing at a time.

2023 was also a year that saw my daughter begin working with me at Maffia Comedy Club.  Not that I think comedy clubs ever held any mystique with her, but I do love that she’s seeing the business side of entertainment.  Getting to know that better means getting to know me better.  Plus it makes it even less likely she’ll ever get on stage herself, so just wins all around.

Speaking of Maffia, while I’ve been a steady fixture there damn near every night, I’ve been hosting less often, giving someone else the job while I do a regular spot.  Even if my material is almost completely the same, it’s nice to feel I’ve more freedom, to feel like an actual comic.  I’ll continue to do so this year.

What will 2024 bring?  No idea.  Ambition remains low, but I did apply for the Lund Comedy Festival, because why not?  I doubt I’ll get in but I like the idea I pitched.  I’ll tell you about it after I get my rejection letter.  Speaking of which, I definitely need a job.

The “Oh Yeah….” Guy

Comedy Posted on Mon, December 04, 2023 09:44:56

I’ve written before about a cycle I’ve seen many comics go through, including myself, that when we begin we’re full of wonder and respect, but about six months later we get jealous and judgmental. Then it feels like we get set on a dark path or a light path. Those on the dark path will always be bitter and focused on opportunities they don’t get, those on the light path appreciate what they have and run their own race. I’ve always believed myself to be on the light path.

I shouldn’t be surprised by things not being so simple. I feel like my ego has undergone a metamorphosis over the past few years and change isn’t always painless. I still believe I’m on the light path, of course, but that doesn’t make me a saint, completely unaffected by opportunities that don’t come my way. It’s just that the question, “Why not me?!” developed new meaning.

That question first comes to mind six months in, when we see someone get a gig or a podcast invite or whatever, something that wasn’t offered to us despite us being much funnier and talented. As I said, either we get over that or we don’t. I did.

Then, just before the pandemic, I burned out and went into self-imposed exile. Then the pandemic just made it exile. Yet I barely heard from anyone. I was so proud of Power Comedy Club, to which so many comics could trace their debuts, friendships, podcasts, even other clubs, why didn’t anyone drop me a line to see how I was doing? Why not me?!

A conversation helped me get past that. I was reminded that, in addition to putting standup on pause, about the same time I lost a full-time job, yet none of my co-workers had contacted me since, because of course they hadn’t. Certainly I’ve made friends in standup but, for the most part, we’re not much more than office drones in the clubs. Either we’re there and we exist or we’re not and we don’t.

Over time, I got back into standup, and going to the clubs made me less and less anxious. My days of grinding are long behind me, but of course it would be nice to get more opportunities, especially now that clubs have reopened and several others have sprung up. Not that I was asking for spots. Why should I? I’m a veteran, people know me, they should be offering me gigs unsolicited. They aren’t. Why not me?!

There are a few reasons why not. First and foremost, if I was much more talented, it wouldn’t matter that I’m not cool, that I’m socially retarded, that I never go to the clubs when I’m not on the lineup. People would be kicking down my door anyway. I am who I am, though, so I’ve got plenty of sandbags on this lead zeppelin.

The biggest reason, though, is that while my ego screams that I should be on the top of everyone’s mind, of course I’m not. People have their own lives, their own priorities, their own struggles. I’m barely in public, barely active on social media. Out of sight, out of mind.

I’ve felt the result of this several times in the past few months, when asking club owners for spots. Their reaction was a consistent, bemused, “Oh yeah…. you exist.” It’s led to gigs in a few cases, in a few others I’m still waiting, maybe because they already forgot about me again. In order to ask at all, I had to circumvent my ego and pride, since I still have that dark feeling of expecting everything to just be handed to me.

I’m curious to see what happens in 2024. At the moment I’m still barely active, but certainly more active than I was a year ago. Active enough to be annoyed by others on social media. It definitely motivated me to post some clips that included actual jokes.

Am I a Fan Anymore?

Comedy Posted on Mon, November 27, 2023 05:02:49

Growing up, I’d see my dad on weekends. He’d pick me up on a Friday night for the ninety-minute drive to his house, always with 93.3 WMMR locked on the radio dial, Philly’s “Home of Rock n’ Roll.” No surprise, then, that Classic Rock was all I ever chose to listen to, even until my mid-teens. Hardly the most popular genre among my classmates. Hair bands were huge then, but they did nothing for me, and the fact that neither men with huge hair wearing makeup nor pro wrestling (also big at the time) appealed to me got me called faggot more than once.

I was fifteen in 1990 (yes, I’m old) and that’s when my tastes began to change. I never stopped enjoying Classic Rock, but now my focus was on the burgeoning Alternative scene, previously known as College Rock. Naturally, R.E.M. was a shining star. I’d record and watch MTV’s 120 Minutes every Sunday at midnight, see a few dozen new acts, and love nearly all of them.

My tastes have continued to evolve over the years and there’s no genre I completely hate, though you’re not likely to find me listening to jam bands or Pop Country. At some point, though, and I don’t know when, I stopped falling in love with new bands. I was late to discover Wilco, for example, who had been around for a long time already. I think the last time I really felt blown away by a new band was when Gorillaz released “Clint Eastwood.” That was over twenty fucking years ago.

Probably the last significant thing to happen to my listening habits is my wife’s influence on me. Before, I always listened to albums. I have a large collection and just went with whatever I was in the mood for. Then I wasn’t listening to my own digital collection anymore but from Spotify, which certainly made it easier. Then, following my wife’s lead, I rarely listened to albums anymore but artist radio or completely random. It’s been years since I’ve listened to a R.E.M. album, yet I still consider myself a fan.

All of this is a long-winded intro to talking about my taste in comedy. The evolution isn’t much different than my taste in music- the early exposure to Rodney Dangerfield and Sam Kinison and Eddie Murphy had a lasting effect, when I began to seek out new artists I loved nearly all of them (and this is during the Boom). However, what derailed my interest in new performers wasn’t age but starting to perform myself. I was seeing so much standup in the clubs, the last thing I wanted to do was put on someone’s special at home.

I’ve found, though, that I have less and less patience for and interest in new acts. Or even new material from comics I’ve enjoyed in the past. I was a big fan of Joe Rogan’s first album, I listen to his podcast regularly (though just as regularly shut it off when he goes into a covid rant), I enjoy hearing him talk to other comics. However, a few months ago I put on his latest special and shut it off five minutes later. I tried just as unsuccessfully to watch Shane Gillis. And Bert Kreischer. And a dozen others.

I’ve written before about how being a comic has affected my enjoyment of standup, though lately I’ve worried that it’s killing my enjoyment of it. Don’t get me wrong, I recently saw Bill Burr live in Stockholm and had a great time, but his “Bill Burr and Friends” special on streaming made me cringe so hard I could barely use the remote to turn it off. I can still enjoy myself in the clubs, although open mics make my chest hurt. A comic once told me that we need to see shit to appreciate the good, but I worry that the good is being drowned by the shit.

I have hope, however. Comedy is changing, as it always does. Alt-comedy has had its day, as has the deeply honest and dark comedy that always appealed to me. I think people are tired of “serious” standup, if one can call it that, as well as what they think is woke culture. Comedy’s new wave is comedians who just tell jokes that don’t mean anything, they’re just meant to get laughs. It’s the Pop Country of comedy and many love it. I don’t but that doesn’t mean you can call me a faggot.

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