The recent Kathy Griffin photo shoot has prompted many people to ask, “What is wrong with comedy?”
My answer is easy…”Nothing.”
Does this mean I support the recent photo shoot? Absolutely not. It was vile, in bad taste…and NOT COMEDY! Basically, to be comedy, it must first be funny. It’s not enough to say, “I’m a comedian, therefore everything I do or say is funny.” That doesn’t work. And this definitely wasn’t comedy. I don’t think at any point anyone involved thought, “Oh this is going to be hysterical.” In fact, in footage from the shoot, Kathy Griffin is heard telling the photographer that they will need to flee the country. That’s not comedy, that’s shock. They weren’t intending for people to laugh, they wanted people to gasp…and talk about it.
Some performers have expressed that their purpose is to elicit an emotional response. My feeling is that if you are going to call yourself a comedian, you need to elicit laughter. Let’s face it, you can whack me upside the head and you will get an emotional response, but I certainly am not going to pay a cover charge and a two-drink minimum to have you do it. And your post on Yelp will be less than stellar.
On the evening that the above-mentioned photo was released, we went to a comedy show sponsored by Locally Grown Comedy. We were treated to an evening of laughs that included Kevin Nealon, Taylor Tomlinson and host, Wendy Liebman. These were just a few of the talented performers…comedians…that took the stage that night. They provided the audience with chuckles, guffaws and out-and-out belly laughs. It was fun and funny.
It was also a reminder that comedy is alive and well. It’s out there and there are people who are working hard to perfect it, to promote it, and to bring it to you. I work with lots of comedians and comedy writers every day. I see their struggles, their desires to get better, and their dedication to making people laugh.
It’s rewarding but it’s also a shame that one comedian’s antics can sour a whole profession. When something like this occurs, I hear, “See, this is why I don’t go to comedy clubs anymore.” Please don’t judge all comedians by the self-serving, publicity-generating behavior of one.
And please don’t stop seeking comedy in your life. We need humor, maybe even more so today than before. There are wonderful comics out there. Let’s support them and continue to laugh. Life is tough so the least we can do is have some fun.
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Master Course in
A 12-week email class that covers the basics of comedy writing. Features lessons and feedback.
Master Course in
A 9-step program that takes the writer through the process of developing a monologue. You will work on a topic of your own choosing.