Thursday, October 3, 2013

Further Thoughts on the Woodstock Comedy Festival

Posted By on Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Jake & Amir
  • Jake & Amir
Comedy is "inconvenient truth," to steal a phrase from the humorless Al Gore. It reveals painful realities we can't admit to ourselves. (Bobcat Goldthwait on Woodstock: "This is such a weird town! Old hippies in Mercedes!") There are two types of comedy: deadpan and screaming. The young hipsters have adopted deadpan. Everyone else does the screaming type, often invoking the word "fuck." Puns are a separate category of humor, or perhaps sub-humor. Dick Cavett was the only performer to venture into this treacherous realm.

Many jokes concern masturbation, but none are about sex. Why is this? Something about sex is unfunny. Everything about masturbation is funny. ("I just flew in from Las Vegas, and boy, are my arms tired — because I was masturbating the whole time!" That was a joke by Jake & Amir, unless I misremember.)

Almost none of the comedy was political, except for Eddie Brill attacking organized religion. For some reason, it's funny to see a fat Jewish guy on stage admitting, "Orthodox Jews are terrible. They're sexist, racist..."

Clearly there's a connection between comedy and stage magic. Dick Cavett met Johnny Carson when they were both aspiring magicians in Nebraska. A great comedian practices a type of hypnosis; he tricks the audience into acquiescence.

Comedy isn't an art, like painting, or a skill, like needlepoint, or a hobby, like fishing. Rather it's an extremely minor profession, slightly below accounting.

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