Sunday, November 27, 2005

Comics: It's time to retire some material

Since I downloaded iTunes, I've pretty much ignored my music collection and have turned instead to Internet radio. Included in the channel lists are several comedy stations, where they play entire sets from comedians of pretty much every stripe, from "You Might Be A Redneck" stuff from Jeff Foxworthy to live readings by David Sedaris.

I've started to notice why standup died in the last decade. There are themes that keep cropping up and jokes that just get told over and over.

For instance: There were a lot of black comics whose routines centered almost exclusively around the differences between blacks and whites. It was funny and edgy when Richard Pryor was doing it, but by the time it got around to Martin Lawrence, the premise was hack. That well is dry now, people -- come up with some new ideas.

Added at 7:20 p.m.: One of the most galling things here is when someone starts out for a call to stop racism, and then proceeds to ennumerate the reasons why we'll never get along. Thanks for the helpful information, jackass.

Probably half of the female comedians I've heard are lesbians. Please stop making jokes about the differences between lesbians and everyone else.

The rest of the female comics I've heard make jokes about the differences between men and women. Stop.

They're not the only ones -- a lot of male comedians talk about the differences between men and women, and it's still not funny. Worse, they almost always make the requisite butt-kissing remark about how "women are smarter than men." Quit it. That isn't true, and it's a transparent attempt to get cheap applause from the women in the audience. Cut the crap, I'm sick of it.

We only need one comic who uses the "Southern" shtick, and I submit that Ron White be the only one allowed to continue. Every time I hear someone say "Git-R-Done," I wish to myself that Larry The Cable Guy would drown in his bathtub. The "You might be a redneck" routine is played out, and besides, the rest of us have no problem spotting them without the help. Bill Engvall is almost an exact clone of Foxworthy, just sappier, and we don't need that either.

I have no problem with comedians who take a political bent, but only as long as its funny -- that's sort of important for comedy. Apart from violating the lesbian rule above, Margaret Cho's political rants aren't funny, just shrill. Come on: I'm listening to hear funny stuff. If I wanted hell-bent, uninformed activism, I'd be reading the comments at

More subjects that need to be left alone for the next 20 years: pornography, airline travel, masturbation, George Lopez' family, airline travel, your kids, the weather, and airline travel. All the funny jokes about these things have already been made. Look elsewhere.

Finally, don't finish up with some sentimental, poignant ending, unless you've got a joke to make it all sort of a wink and a nod. I don't need to leave inspired, full of hope, or with warm feelings about humanity. All I want out of a comic is a bunch of laughs from jokes I haven't heard before. I don't need a heart-warming story or a reason to live. Make me laugh, and then go away.