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.