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Sunday, 15 May 2022


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Thanks, I haven't seen his act before. Another master of subtle deadpan, and quite funny.

Mike, if you are a fan of Nate, you might like Mary Mack as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpcrYS8l64A

I also enjoy finding new comedy on Youtube. Two of my recent favorites are Chad Thornsberry, who reminds me of several of my uncles from back in Missouri, and Josh Blue. I'm also a long-time fan of Brian Regan.

For the right comedian, I can also listen multiple times. Just like with a favorite song, knowing that the "chorus" is coming up just raises the anticipation.

Hope you're searching Vimeo.com too, as any connoisseur should. Often the stuff there has also been posted to Youtube, but sometimes not. As a bonus, the ad-less, algorithm-less environment is an oasis. (Lately they've put up a splash screen to promote subscriptions. You don't need one to just watch videos. Click on "Watch" in the top menu to do that.)

The topic of humor is probably discussed in depth in many non-photographic venues. I don't know it, but if there is a TOP for photographers it is a good bet that there is a TOC for comedians. I even have friends who have given stand-up a try.

There are many types of course: observational humor (like Jerry Seinfeld, early Paul Reiser), slapstick, Borschtbelt/Vaudville, social commentary/prophesy (Dave Chappelle), A-plague-on both-your-houses commentary (John Stewart); comedy with a political bent (Trevor Noah-L, Dane Cook, Dennis Miller-R), non-funny comedy (Patton Oswalt). I'm sure others will quibble with my seat-of-the-pants characterizations. And that is fine.

It does seem to me that the genre has grown, not just because we have limitless bandwidth and a corporate need to fill it with something (anything) but because it is as if, in the absence of any remaining trusted institution, we have settled on mockery as our most trustworthy form of public truth-telling. Newscasters? Who needs 'em? I'll just get my news from the Daily Show. (say my kids)

But here's the thing: Along the way, I have lost most of my sense of humor, or the genre has evolved beyond my ability to enjoy it. I remember as a child seeing the stateroom scene from _A Night at the Opera_ or the denumont of a Pink Panther movie and laughing so hard, I thought I would pass out. I remember laughing so hard that comic absurdity was making it impossible to breathe; being taken out of myself to such an extent that my delight eclipsed all else. But no comic I have seen in the past 10 years (nor any on the list above) has elicited anything even close to that. My family laughs at what they find on YouTube all the time, so I have a sense that someone is finding this stuff funny. But for me it as if the essence of funny has been diluted by too many people seeking to tell their truths. Or as if our situation is too dire to allow myself the distraction. I _can_ still laugh -- my brother routinely makes me laugh in that all-else-is-forgotten way. But standup isn't doing it.

Best I can derive from Nate Bargatze is a half-smile. I see the character he is creating. And he is pleasant. But I miss getting lost in a punchline, or perhaps the part of myself that could get lost in a punchline. I can't see that result from his patter -- can you? Perhaps that's not what he is going for, and it is unfair of me to expect or demand it. But I would be interested to hear when the last time you all saw something so funny that you were beside yourself with laughter. High bar? Yes. But this is art we are talking about, no?

There was classical comedy, right? Like Aristophanes' The Frogs. For the Greeks, tragedy was about the downfall of noble men, and comedy was about the foibles of ordinary ones. This is why food and human appetite can be funny, farting can be funny, infidelity is (or is often) made to be funny, conflict between husband and wife can be funny: because these are inescapably relatable, common experiences. But the art was always to understand these common (universal) appetites and weaknesses where the outcome is always certain, and infuse it with a punchline the essence of which is surprise. In American comedy, it was often the situation that was ordinary and the comic who was absurd (Bill Murray, Bugs Bunny). In European comedy it was often the other way around. The man was ordinary, and the situation absurd (Jaques Tati, Monty Python, Peter Sellars).

It would be interesting if other commenters linked to material that gave them a good belly laugh. In that vein, I will offer "Sour Death Balls," a silent movie with a jazzy score made a couple of years ago the premise of which is the unscripted reactions of a series of people eating the most sour concoction that the filmmaker could create. You can find it here:


Having ignored SNL for decades (the last series I watched had Dana Carvey in it), I only discovered Norm Macdonald on youtube after his death. I've now seen some of his SNL work and they're ok, but I find his appearances on talk shows funnier. The Monty Python TV shows made my sides hurt when they first appeared here in Canada, but I never thought their films matched that. I thought the Seinfeld TV show was funny in the first few seasons. I've tried watching new stand-up on youtube but don't have the patience, but Eddie Izzard came closest. I'm pretty sure I'm not giving them a fair chance though.

Think is possible to be connoisseur of things even if you like many of them. I have friend who is connoisseur of whisky[*] (he would say he is not but he is). One thing he has said is that there is no such thing as a bad whisky. Well he is lying because I have also seen him refuse to drink quite expensive Speysides because they are 'whisky which tastes of nothing for rich people who don't like whisky but want to show off', but he also likes many whiskies for their individual and distinct characters and has told me that best whisky he ever drank was some unbranded Islay sold in supermarkets cheaply probably because distillery did not want to be known by it.

I do not know: I have drunk strange and various whiskies with him in Scotland but I am not connoisseur: where I come from we drink spirit made of potatoes, spit, and the blood and ground-up bones of our many & various enemys and these spirits spoil you for mere whisky which hardly ever is made from even small amounts of ground-up enemys nowadays. What is even the point of having enemys if you do not grind them up and drink them I do not know.

Is like cats. I do not own a cat because of lifestyle but I am I think connoisseur of them. And there are no bad cats: there are smelly cats, cats which bite you, cats which will not talk to you, cats which make too many more cats, cats which will only eat from spoon. All are different, all are good.

[*] sorry I know you do not drink so I hope this does not offend you.

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