Comedian, pod-caster, writer, actor, musician, director, and producer
We’re all at least a little damaged, which means that we ought to be more sympathetic toward one another. In practice, we tend to need reminding because our damage does not necessarily jibe with someone else’s. When that happens, we can all behave like jackasses or worse.
Enter art as one way to translate personal damage into a consumable message. Sometimes the message is oblique, as in a painting by Jackson Pollack or Citizen Kane, where you can feel the raw end of the artist’s emotion, but perhaps not tune in directly to the source of the damage. Maybe that makes it harder to see the person behind the tools, but they are so very much there.
Stand-up comedyprovides few tools to hide behind, except for those disturbingly skinny enough to disappear behind a microphone stand. Many, many comedians take the world we share and push it back out at us filtered through their neurons, which is great. Robin Williams and George Carlin were masters at that. Others take their own lives and share, building a sense of common experience that way. Whether or not it’s accurate, I remember Richard Pryor being one of the first. The thing that Pryor did, also, was meld the two approaches successfully. More than any other comedian at the time, he took his personal experiences which felt common to all of us and turned them into a commentary on the world we shared. Lenny Bruce may have pointed the way on that.
Nowadays, that personal path to universal commentary seems almost commonplace. Quite a few comics use it to test where our edges are as a society. So many do that in fact that it appears the easier road, though I doubt it. Either way, I find few who use their personal experience to such brilliant effect as Maron- just listen to his visit to The Creation Museum.
Perhaps the best aspect of this approach to comedy and art is the way that it invites us in. When the artist aims for shock, then they likely accomplish their goal. We’re animals with adrenal glands and eyes pointed in one direction. We do shock very well. It’s much harder to build a relationship through art, especially since all art is discrete in time and space. The artist has no guarantee of attention or repeated viewings. Creating a community by standing in front of us and talking is simply brilliant.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 186 more to go.
New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.
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